It is springtime. The sun is shining. The ground holds the promise of daffodils and tulips. All kinds of new life is emerging from winter darkness into the bright light of spring.
The word Lent is an old English word meaning springtime. It is a time of new life. It is a time to ready ourselves for the greatest event in human history. The Sacred Scriptures of Holy Week are filled with practical spiritual concepts. Daily they challenge us to learn more about ourselves. They challenge us to shine a lighted torch on the inner darkness. This darkness casts a shadow on our lives and on our relationships.
This is the week to look inward and see the Good Friday darkness. The darkness can be anything that interferes with an authentic relationship with self; an authentic relationship with others; an authentic relationship with God. This threefold relationship is a central part of the Christian life. To have difficulty with any one of the three is to have difficulty with each of the others. It is one package.
The most common darkness that interferes with the threefold relationship can be unresolved painful moments of our childhood and adolescence. There are feelings that come from real or imagined hurt and rejection, neglect and misunderstanding. Sometimes they come from prolonged conflict, abuse or abandonment. Many people are ensnared in the Good Friday darkness of unresolved and unhealed wounds from childhood and from adolescence. They carry these wounds into adult life.
They are filled with anger and hostility. They do not know it. And, in their lack of awareness, they are unable to take responsibility for their denied emotional and spiritual injuries and negativity.
When people start thinking about Good Friday darkness they often think it is out there. They talk about wars and racism. Some people see injustices and neglect. They see what nations do to each other.
Some people do not see the darkness within. They do not want to look within at their own judgments, entitlements and their own hostilities. It is too difficult and too threatening and too tough a job to look inward and see the darkness within.
When people are unaware of the Good Friday darkness in their lives, it is easy for them to project their negativity out and violate others. They violate boundaries and respect. They attempt to create secrets and bindings to justify their beliefs. They start to project their inner darkness outward rather than accept it as something that is within them.
Those living in Good Friday darkness will often spray out gobs of negative past life debris onto a spouse or a friend or an employee or a co-worker. It can happen to in-laws or to neighbors. The whole world becomes a big ghost for their unconscious stuff. A blizzard of toxins can be propelled and sprayed everywhere.
When we start to look at the Good Friday darkness within, we are humbled. We see our flaws and it can open our hearts. We shed the mask. We meet the truth. We face what is crippling us and haunting us. We confess and we ask for forgiveness. We begin to open up to ourselves, others and God.
The Easter light begins to shine when we stop projecting our negativity outward. This leads to a passionate acceptance of the self. It challenges a radical self-acceptance. It demands an acceptance of the whole self. It promotes a shift in the perception of self. It facilitates a shift in our perception of the world. We end up with greater self-mastery.
The Easter light calls for an acceptance of what is in our lives. It helps us realize that we have a lot in common with everyone else. It leads us to awaken to a space that is beyond our personalities. It ultimately leads to an embracing of self; embracing of others; embracing of God.
This journey from Good Friday darkness to Easter light is at the heart of what we call the Paschal Mystery. It is at the heart of our hope in the Resurrection. “We proclaim your death O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again” (The Mystery of Faith).
Msgr. Thomas J. Morgan is pastor, St. Mary Parish and St. Thomas More Parish, Cherry Hill.
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