The pandemic closed down everything so suddenly. Stopped plans. Postponed events. But our priest still wanted me to do the Good Friday St. Faustina’s Stations of the Cross. Like a boy with a new toy, he was so excited – a super recording camera we could use to live stream the event.
The church was cool and so still. I stood at the ambo while he videotaped me introducing the event. My friend’s husband carried the cross as the words of the CD played, stopping reverently at each station. My friend and I followed him, bowing and praying and experiencing each station in our hearts and souls. Father followed us with his camera. We were all consumed with the words, Jesus speaking and then St. Faustina answering. We sang the verses as the cross moved on in a steady, beautiful rhythm.
Tears started to flow as our hearts were touched. Our savior walking to his death, falling under the weight of the heavy cross three times, we were alone with Him in the still church. And St. Faustina’s voice reminds us of our sins, failings, and shortcomings.
Then at Station Four, we met Mary, Jesus’s sorrowful mother, watching her son on his way to his death. Mary is heartbroken just as I would be if I watched Bill, my son, go to his death. St. Faustina’s voice interrupts my thoughts: “I saw the Blessed Virgin, unspeakable beautiful. She held me close to herself and said to me, I am Mother to you all, thanks to the unfathomable mercy of God. Most pleasing to me is that soul which faithfully carries out the will of God. Be courageous. Do not fear apparent obstacles, but fix your gaze upon the Passion of my Son, and in this way, you will be victorious (449).”
Victorious! In death! How hard is it to do? What courage it took for Mary to follow her son and watch until the end. Until he was placed in her arms one last time. The baby she cradled, the child she comforted, the man she watched him become, the Savior of the World but still her little boy. More tears, sharing in the love of one mother to another. Knowing the pain of losing a child, whether to the cross or to our modern world of evils, to drugs, to alcohol, to violence.
We move on in silence; only the voices on the CD reverberate through the empty church and bounce off the walls in an echo that seems to come from the depths of eternity. The words of the closing prayer touch my soul: “My Jesus, my only hope, I am grateful for this great book you have opened before the eyes of my soul. This great book is your Passion you have confronted out of love for me. From this book I have learned how to love God and souls. Inexhaustible treasures are stored in it (…) Oh Jesus, how few souls understand you in your martyrdom of love (…). Happy the soul that has understood the love from the Heart of Jesus” (304).
Encountering the Empty Tomb
In the silence of the empty church, we reach the end, the empty tomb—the experience of the resurrection. Of joy, of life beyond the death, with love that continues beyond the grave, with the promise of so much more. . .and as I sing the words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet to close the session, “Jesus, I Trust in You…” my soul is lifted from the empty church to the choir of heaven. I join all the angels and saints in praise. I forget the camera, and I am filled with joy—the perfect joy of the risen Christ. Like Christ’s suffering in the Passion is not the end but the beginning, my journey through the empty church to the empty tomb to the heavenly gates has just begun.
Quotes are paragraphs in Divine Mercy In My Soul-Diary of Sister M. Faustina Kowalska by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Marian Press; 3rd edition (April 25, 2003).