VII: Jesus falls a second time

Jesus falls again, this time from weariness. His heart is not weary, but His body can only bear so much. There is no reluctance, only fatigue. For us, however, the two go hand in hand: when we tire of our pilgrimage, we seek escape. Discouragement urges us to turn away. But the only real failure, we must remember, would be to give up completely. No matter how many times we may stumble, and no matter how long it may take to rise up again, this is the only path to freedom.

Does one not break one’s entire life with every gesture? But what of it? The thing is not to go away, and wander for days, months, even years – the thing is to return and in the old place to find oneself.

Adam, in The Jeweler’s Shop by Saint Pope John Paul II

XIV: Jesus is laid in the Tomb

As the body is placed in the tomb, and the stone is rolled into place, a stillness covers the earth. The stillness is deceptive, for while all seems dormant, God is performing the miracle of which every other miracle is merely a sign. With Mary, we wait in stillness, and in hope.

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives of Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve… The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory…. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

VI: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

Veronica boldly steps forward to offer some relief. No one stops her: the guards are too consumed with the chaos of the crowds. Jesus accepts this gesture gratefully, and wipes His Face on her cloth. The cloth receives the imprint of the New Adam. We, too, received that imprint when the waters of baptism poured down on us. In the veil of Veronica, we see, as in a mirror, our true selves and our high calling.

Remember, Christian, the surpassing worth of the wisdom that is yours. Bear in mind the kind of school in which you are to learn your skills, the rewards to which you are called. Mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, righteousness itself wishes you to be righteous, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart…. The faith of those who live their faith is a serene faith. What you long for will be given you; what you love will be yours forever.

Saint Pope Leo the Great, from a sermon on the Beatitudes

…Let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honor him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others. The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, bishop, from a sermon entitled De pauperum amore

lent 2021

goodfriday_chickadee_812x600 A chickadee perches in a tree on Good Friday of 2014, the day after the ashes of my parents were buried in the plot below its branches.

Lent ushers in hope. As my dad used to observe, the word Lent means “lengthening” — the days get longer, reaching out to the hope of resurrection. May hope sustain you on this Ash Wednesday.

Here are a couple of resources for the season of Lent (more to come):

76 years ago…

John W Emmer, Jra B-24 bomber was shot down by enemy fire over Hansa Bay, New Guinea, carrying my uncle John and 10 other crewmen. They were officially MIA until Good Friday of 2018, when the team of Project Recover discovered the plane nearly 200 feet under the surface of the bay.

I had stopped by the family cemetery plot on that same Good Friday on my way to a prayer vigil in Saint Paul. As I cleared snow from the tombstones, I began thinking about uncle John and how little we knew about him. I decided to walk the cemetery praying a rosary for all the deceased in my family. Little did I know that, on that very day, his plane had been discovered.

gravestone of John Emmer, JrMore details about the discovery, and the consequent gathering of the families of the deceased crew, at the links below.

in memory of uncle John

Heaven Can Wait family gathering (October 2018)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

-Excerpt from “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon

Project Recover: The Finding of ‘Heaven Can Wait’ B-24 from Kyle McBurnie on Vimeo.

NOTE: I’m currently working on a new blog post about Uncle John… specifically, the things I learned from my visit to Omaha in May of 2019 for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency regional meeting. I was able to sit down with a casualty officer, analyst, and historian to review what they know about what happened to the crew of Heaven Can Wait on March 11, 1944.