Tag Archives: suffering

Friday the 13th

It’s definitely a modern invention, the claim that Friday the 13th is inauspicious because Jacques de Molay and the Knights Templar were arrested in France on Friday, October 13, 1307.

Even so, I’ll play on the connection with that story and today’s readings from Morning Prayer.

I can’t help thinking today of Christians and others imprisoned for their faith, persecuted because of their religion, or driven from their homes to live as refugees, as so many are today.

I can’t help praying for the teenage boys a friend just texted me about, the older killed in a car accident this morning, the younger in critical condition in the hospital. Their suffering and their parents’ grief and fear are dark prisons.

You have put my friends far from me; you have made me to be abhorred by them; *
I am in prison and cannot get free.
My sight has failed me because of trouble; *
LORD, I have called upon you daily; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead? *
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?
Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave? *
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Will your wonders be known in the dark? *
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O LORD, I cry to you for help; *
in the morning my prayer comes before you. (Psalm 88:9-14)

Pray for all whose faith is abused for financial gain; whose loyalty is rewarded with political murder; whose life is thrown away by those seeking power or control.

Pray for those whose faith is tested by tragedy, pain, and fear.

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8-11)

But remember, too, that even in the middle of persecution, flight, and abuse; even in the face of tragedy and pain; even on this particular Friday in the middle of Lent, Scripture reminds us that death is not the end of the story.

We are nearing Holy Week, when we remember Jesus’ willing sacrifice, his dying and rising, the way of the cross that is the pattern for our own lives of faith.

We are nearing Good Friday, the Friday that makes all others “good,” even the ones that land on the 13th of the month.

And we hear echoes this morning in Paul’s letter to the Romans of the canticle Christ our Passover (BCP 83) that we will sing throughout the coming season of Easter.

A Collect for Fridays

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 99)

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The sufferings of the present time

And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.

I would flee to a far-off place
and make my lodging in the wilderness.

I would hasten to escape
from the stormy wind and tempest.
(Psalm 55:7-9)

The Hermit’s Song

I wish, O Son of the living God, O ancient, eternal king
For a hidden little hut in the wilderness that it may be my dwelling.

An all-grey little lake to be by its side.
A clear pool to wash away sins by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Quite near, a beautiful wood around it on every side,
To nurse many-voiced birds, hiding it with its shelter.

From A Celtic Primer, Brendan O’Malley

How often this kind of lovely picture comes to my mind — especially on days like today when I am conscious of my difficulties and frustrations.

“If only I could just escape, if only I could just get away, if only I didn’t have to face it, if only ….”

That sort of fantasizing, however, really leads nowhere. Even if I could flee to a hermit’s “little hidden hut,” it would still be me sitting inside it, stewing and agitated.

While going to a quiet place, physically apart from other people, is sometimes important, the more important separation here is called detachment.

I must learn to separate myself from the anxiety and circular worries, center myself in God’s presence, and renew my trust in his goodness.

That’s a habit of mind more than a physical location. That’s probably what Jesus meant when he talked about “going into your interior room to pray.”

When we cannot “fly away” physically, we must find a place of quiet inside and there “be at rest.”

Even Jesus himself struggled for that inner peace as Thursday night turned into Friday morning and he prayed that the trouble building around him could pass from him.

His sense of the Father’s presence gave him the confidence to face into the storm.

I wish, O Son of the living God, for a measure of that same confidence.

Collect for Wednesday in Holy Week

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.