During the days of the Triduum the sisters remain silent except for sacred liturgies. We are waiting for God to break into our lives with something too wonderful for words.
In her poem Hush, Sister Miriam Pollard writes,
“You want this moment, these hours, to be very quiet. You want people to stand there and try to realize what is happening, that this is the climax of a great drama. Creation has emerged out of nothingness and wound its way to this moment.”
On Holy Thursday at Midday Prayer, we place in their repository the holy oils of catechumens, of consecrated chrism and of the sick, recalling how we use them in our ministries.
In the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we immerse ourselves in the First Eucharist;Jesus gives us his body and blood to make us one Body of Christ, so that we can carry on his work of caring, teaching and guiding.
We follow him to Gethsemane and wait with him, remembering the times when we, too, have disappointed him. And how often in our lives have we played Judas, betraying the Christ in others for our own profit?
On Good Friday we stand with the women at the foot of the cross, and grieve with the Reproaches: “My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! … I gave you saving water from the rock, but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.”
During Morning and Evening Prayer we chant the heart-breaking Lamentations: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow.”
Sister Miriam Pollard says of this day, “Think what we have made of a world that wraps itself around our seasons, our hope and our labor. And then think that our majesty and our degradation are hanging quietly on the branches of the tree of history. Consider this man who gathers into himself the moment all of history has been surging toward. … Make of your heart a quiet more than quiet. A quietude beyond all human refusals to make noise.”
In the monastery on Holy Saturday there is an emptiness, like a house after a death. We go about our work quietly, as though a noise would shatter the heart and scatter its fragments. Hush. Be still. Wait. There is more to this story.
After sunset fades in the west, we gather in the darkness as Father Tom Foster lights the new fire of Easter.
“Light of Christ.” “Thanks be to God.”
The fire lights the Paschal candle and is passed from person to person until all stand in a great circle of light. We listen to the joyful words of the Exsultet: “This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death. … This is the night of which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day; dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.”
One sister after another comes up to tell the story of salvation from Adam’s fall until Christ breaking through the prison-bars of death. We return to the Gathering Space to bless the new baptismal waters and renew our own promises.
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! May this Easter bring us joy as we participate in the new life of the Resurrected Christ. Alleluia!