"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

15 February 2009

Death on a Friday Afternoon

The death of Richard John Neuhaus has robbed us of a great intellect but, far more important, a great man of God. His work has challenged me and changed my life. Two years ago, I first read his meditation on the last words of Christ, Death on a Friday Afternoon. I have decided to try to read it again this year, starting now and reading a chapter each week till Easter. Toward that end, this evening I read the preface and was caught by the following:

Good Friday is the drama of the love by which our every day is sustained.

Good Friday forms the spiritual architecture of Christian existence.

In [the] last words of the Word in descent into death, we come upon the perfect sound of silence, a silence of the completion toward which all good words tend. "It is finished," Jesus said from the cross. It is finished, but it is not over. To accompany Him to His end is to discover our beginning.

Undoubtedly I will repeat myself as I explore this meditation again, but Truth does not erode from constant use, and I find I need much repetition to keep its merest and most basic elements before me . . . It is my heart desire to draw closer to Him during this Lenten season, to once more visit this most basic of Truths that we embrace and find its reality within me.

* I will usually capitalize pronouns referring to God, though Neuhaus does not, for avoidance of any ambiguity or confusion.

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