Friday, April 06, 2012

The World is Plunged into Darkness

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - single candle on hearse illumining sanctuary

A single candle illumines the sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, after the liturgy of Tenebrae — The Office of Darkness — for Good Friday. Photo taken last night. The liturgy of Good Friday, commemorating the Crucifixion, is the bleakest of the entire liturgical year. An excerpt from the Office, from the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah:
Aleph. I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath.
Aleph. He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light.
Aleph. Surely he turns his hand against me again and again the whole day long.
Beth. My skin and my flesh he has made old; he has broken my bones.
Beth. He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation.
Beth. He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
Ghimel. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me.
Ghimel. Although I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.
Ghimel. He has blocked my way with hewn stones, he has made me desolate.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn back again to the Lord your God.
Catholicism is neither nice nor is pleasant, for it is a religion of suffering and of spiritual warfare: “Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you...” ultimate victory is assured, but we must soldier on. As the single candle shown above symbolizes, the darkness will be overcome.

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