The Paschal Mystery

A dear friend of mine died this last week — a gentle, strong man who for many years was an inspiration and encouragement to me, and I suspect to many others besides. He was a brother priest and was accompanied on his last journey by many friends, those who loved him, those close to him and those who cared for him.

There is a prayer in the ritual of Anointing of the Sick that reads: Look with compassion upon your servant whom we have anointed in your name with this holy oil for the healing of his body and soul. Support him with your power, comfort him with your protection and give him the strength to fight against evil. Since you have given him a share in your own passion help him to find hope in suffering.

This Holy Week we will be journeying with Jesus in his final days when he experiences great physical and mental suffering, undergoing an ignominious death before rising to new life. We have a wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on the sufferings of Jesus. Let us discover what it means for us to find hope in his suffering. It is only by being with Jesus in his last days that the words the priest prayed for my friend after death make sense or mean anything to me: Lord Jesus you willingly gave yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death to a new life. By dying you opened the gates of life to those who believe in you.

We are not merely remembering past events, as we celebrate these last days of Jesus this week — we are entering into the Paschal mystery which is the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. We are being part of it.

Here is my prayer for Holy Week:

‘Loving Lord, give me the grace to walk with you on your last journey that takes you to your death. I place myself in the crowd. I walk with you on the road to Golgotha. I stand with Mary and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross as you die. I watch as you are placed in the tomb. On the first day of the week I journey with the women as they encounter an empty tomb.’

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest