Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: yes, it really is that bad

I wrote this last year but wanted to share it again this year. 

Good Friday - yes, it really is that bad

Maybe it's my melancholic temperament, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when I relate a hardship to someone else and their response is, "Oh, it's really not that bad." Now to be fair, probably some of the things I complain about aren't that bad and I need to lighten up. And I know that the respondant is seeking to help me, seeking to make things easier by helping me see the "positive side" of a situation. But the fact is, some situations don't have positive sides. Or if they do, it's not in the form of a "silver lining" that I just need to squint harder in order to see. Some things in this fallen world are just broken and bad and hard, period.

Such as Good Friday. It hit me in a fresh way this Good Friday the fact that Jesus really died. I know that sounds so basic - it's what we say every Sunday in the creed: "he suffered death and was buried." But this year, for whatever reason the fact really sunk in that Jesus' agony and death on the cross wasn't an illusion. It wasn't an optical illusion or a prank. The Son of Man, God Incarnate, really truly died that black, black day. He gave up his spirit and "descended into Hell," as the Apostles' Creed says. There's no amount of squinting that will find the silver lining in that reality - Jesus died

The Good Friday liturgy brings this point home. It's stark and sparse. Images covered in red. Priests prostrating themselves. The crowd (us) saying "Crucify him!" This year I felt a real, aching sense of sorrow at thinking of Jesus bleeding on the cross and being placed in a cold, hard tomb. We sang a song that had the line, "Heavy with weeping let these three days pass." If Jesus hadn't really died, then this would all be a show. It would be play-acting, drumming up emotions for the sake of catharsis. Instead, it's a real mourning - Jesus died that day on Calvary. If Easter Sunday didn't arrive, there would be nothing "good" about Good Friday. 

In trying to parse out why this point impacted me so much this year, I think it's because it hit home that our faith is not one of rose-colored glasses and optimism. It's one of resurrection and hope, which are two markedly different things than a tinny sort of forced cheerfulness. For me, that gives me the freedom to really grieve over the sorrows in my life - yes, infertility really is that bad. It's that hard. There's not really a "positive spin" you can give to the fact that my body is broken and my vocation to motherhood is stunted. It's all right to grieve that - in fact, it's a fitting response. 

The same goes for any truly tragic thing - yes, it really is that bad that babies die in the womb, that children starve to death, that young men and women are murdered in their prime, that the elderly languish alone, unloved. Christianity's response to the suffering of a broken world was not to say "there, there, it's not that bad" - instead, the response for which the world had been groaning since the dawn of time was the sacrificial offering of God Himself on a bloody cross, knowing that no platitudes or bandaids would go to the heart of the crisis.

I have thoughts on Easter too...coming soon =)


  1. GREAT post! There's nothing I can say to that except AMEN. For the first time at Mass last night (Holy Thursday) I got chills, and was weepy after. God really died, for US. Such an awesome, awesome thing.

    By the way, thinking of you today and your ultrasound series!! Prayers and well wishes that you hear some good news!!!

  2. AMEN! AMEN! Love this post! Thank you for sharing it again! Our melancholic selves would get along well:-)

  3. Yay for melancholics we are deep thinkers :) Thank you for this post and agree with the above sentiments, Amen!

  4. Hi there! Thanks so much for sharing. Here's to more fruitful revelations and moment of grace during this very special, holy time for all of us, and I pray that your tests reveal answers and next steps.

  5. A beautiful reflection, Ecce. Thank you! I needed this.

    I especially identified with this line -- "Some things in this fallen world are just broken and bad and hard, period." It's hard to let ourselves be truly sad because the world tells us sad is bad and our troubles aren't really as bad as we think they are. We just have to pick ourselves back up and keep trucking along. Thank you for pointing out that this is not always the case.