This time last week I was having breakfast with the priests of a parish where I was leading a retreat. The Friday night session had attracted a great group of adults and we had no idea who or how many would come to the four-hour Saturday gathering.
As we enjoyed our al fresco coffee and eggs I had just published the last of the Luminous Mystery reflections which focus on the ministry of Jesus from his baptism to the Last Supper. Later that day I was to complete the Sunday introduction to this week’s Sorrowful Mystery reflections.
That’s where we often find ourselves isn’t it; not in the Joyful Mysteries of birth and childhood years, nor yet in the Glorious Mysteries that will begin for us with Resurrection, but in the adult and earthly ups and downs of the Luminous and Sorrowful mysteries.
The retreat day was inspiring for me, the commitment of those who came, their reflections, and their desire to encounter Jesus more deeply not in a far-away heaven or in pious thoughts or practices, but in the reality of their daily experiences – filled with light and darkness, the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of earthly human existence.
Tomorrow FFF begins a week of reflection on the Glorious Mysteries. But for a moment today as we conclude the Sorrowful Mysteries, let’s remember that because of the Resurrection of Jesus we no longer have to fear suffering and death. For those who live with open minds, eyes and hearts there are tastes of glory in the midst of life’s tough realities.
This is the most hope-filled reality of all human existence.
During the week I led a formation session with the teachers in one of our schools. The themes of the Saturday retreat and the Sorrowful Mysteries were very much in my mind, and at one stage of the session we placed a large crucifix on the table around which the ten of us were seated.
When you think about that it’s a strange thing to do, to place a three dimensional representation of a crucified man hanging on a Roman instrument of torture and death in such a comfortable, friendly, school staff room.
But my own experience teaches me that if I don’t face the unpleasant, unwelcome and unwarranted daily sufferings and deaths, I miss the power of encountering the Jesus who is with me right when i need this divine companionship, and who saves me when I am overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.
Let’s ponder this as today we pray the five Sorrowful Mysteries. You might be able to do this without accompaniment now, but if you would like a helping hand you might find the written text helpful at this link or the company of an audio recording at this link.