Sitting in Darkness

This week I attended the Tenebrae service that is held at the Cathedral on Wednesday of Holy Week. (If you don’t know what Tenebrae is At the end of the service all of the lights in the Cathedral are turned off and all but one candle is extinguished. This candle is meant to represent the light of Christ. It is taken out of the sanctuary space which leaves the assembly sitting in complete darkness.

While I was sitting in the darkness of the Cathedral, I was struck by the darkness that the world encountered on Holy Saturday. Christ was dead in the tomb. The apostles sat in their grief. They were sad not only because their friend, their teacher, the person they gave up everything for was dead, but also because they had denied Him. I’m sure they were close to despair, sitting on just a small amount of hope that what Christ told them would happen, that He would rise the following day.

How like the apostles are we? So often I reach despair. I fall into the trap of thinking Christ is no longer there for me, that He has left me behind. I forget His promise to be with me always. I focus so much on my failings and sins that I let the darkness of Holy Saturday consume my life. I fail to realize that there is a light just outside the darkness waiting to come back into the room.

Sitting in the darkness of the Cathedral made me think about how the world has no idea what it’s missing. People who haven’t encountered Christ are living in darkness. But since it’s the only thing they’ve experienced their eyes have adjusted. It doesn’t seem that dark. They can make things out around the shadows. If only they would allow the light to enter their lives. Only then will they really experience true joy. Only then will they be able to understand everything in perspective with it’s true purpose.

This week reminds me that we are called to more than just entering into the suffering of Christ. We are called to take our suffering and pain and accept it joyfully. We are called to not let the darkness overwhelm us. We are called to have hope. We are called to live with this great hope because we know the end of the story.

Our Holy Saturday is a lot different than the apostles. We already know how the story ends. We know that Christ does keep His promise. We know He comes back. We know He is with us ALWAYS. We also know He is full of mercy and love, that all we have to do is ask for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is no reason for us to sit in the darkness and despair of Holy Saturday. But it is important to reflect on that day 2000 years ago because if we don’t we’ll forget. May we never forget that in our darkness all we have to do is allow the light of Christ to enter.

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