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Contemplating the Mystery of Easter

“Behold a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief!”

John Stainer’s 1887 oratorio, “Crucifixion”, has a bass line, “Oh t’was love, deep, divine compassion”.

How do we respond to such images?

“God cannot be thought, He can only be loved” is the way the unknown author of ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ begins his profound mystical work. The author points us to a mystery. A mystery of experience, where the more we think about something, the less we feel we know. The less we are satisfied at the depth of our being. At issue here is the way we moderns seek to control our inner and outer worlds. Everything that happens has to have a rational explanation. Not so says the Cloud. The truth lies in our gut, the totality of our being, here in harmony resides our rational and intuitive self, the depth and range of our emotional and ethical being, the sum total of all our life experiences. Caiaphas sums up the rational response for us when he says “it is expedient for you that one man must die for the people”. Coolly he assesses Jesus as a revolutionary threat. He threatens the status quo which enriches them, “so away with him! Crucify him”!

I slowly walk along the chapel wall and ‘read’ the icons of ‘the Stations of the Cross’. I run my fingers over the brass figures. My inner self moves me to another place, a place of mystery. I recall through my fingers a savage and cruel past. Yet I am present to myself as never before. I experience in myself the pain and loss caught up in this far distant tragedy.

At Easter, countless generations have stood before the Image of the crucified Jesus. The reality of Easter defies our meditation. We try so hard to explain the “it is finished”! But ultimately all we can do is sit and gaze and gaze upon him. We allow God himself to speak to us through the silence of our contemplation. It is our obedience to the command “to deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow me”. The traditional Stations move us to another place. Thought is suspended. We have a differing sensibility, as thoughts and feelings arise in our consciousness, calling us to engage with the deeper mystery dwelling in the centre of our being. A going deeper, which on one hand defies logic, yet on the other hand seems so meaningful. A going deeper, where we encounter the mystery of Christ, risen from the dead.

So this Easter, join with me and the company of those who seek to love the One who stands behind these mysteries of divine being. In silence and stillness wait for His appearing. Join with the countless multitudes who will faithfully run their fingers along the brass figures of the Stations and thus enter that place of holy mystery, a mystery that satisfies the deepest longings of the heart.

Hear again the great invocation: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”.

– Brian Stitt

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