Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live life with a Franciscan focus.

31 December 2010

Christmas and the Crucifixion 

Earlier this afternoon, I popped over to a nearby perpetual Adoration chapel (Eucharist FTW! Literally!), intending to pray the Rosary while there. The chapel was gloriously decked out for Christmastide -- piles of poofy poinsettias were placed around the monstrance, tabernacle, altar, and ambo; several lighted Christmas trees flanked the monstrance and ambo; and evergreen wreaths hung on all the walls.

As I pulled my Rosary out of my purse, I realized that, today being Friday, the mysteries to meditate upon are the Sorrowful ones. Gah! Surrounded by such festive decorations, the last thing I wanted to do was meditate on Christ's passion and death. I tried to remember if, during Christmastide, we could get away with praying the Joyful Mysteries on Fridays, but wasn't sure. Maybe I'd just pray something else? ... No, I'd intended to pray the Rosary, and the Sorrowful Mysteries were at bat, so I'd just have to get on with it, no matter the dissonance.

As I began the First Mystery, Christ's Agony in the Garden, the thought crossed my mind on how the whole chapel looked rather garden-like with all flowers and trees. What a contrast between this gentle, joyful, and light-drenched "garden" in celebration of His birth versus the pain-filled, sorrowful, and dark garden of His agony.

At the Second Mystery, the Scourging at the Pillar, my eyes wandered over to the vibrant red poinsettias surrounding the monstrance and cascading down to the tabernacle ... almost giving the appearance of blood flowing and pooling around the tabernacle. Another contrast to consider -- the cascading red flowers, and the Precious Blood that flowed from Christ's body during His brutal scourging.

For the Crowning with Thorns, the Third Mystery, I pondered the difference between the circles of fluffy, fragrant evergreen wreaths along the walls, and the sharp, thorny circle that was driven into Christ's head.

On the Fourth Mystery, the Carrying of the Cross, I looked at the evergreen trees around the monstrance and ambo. Several volunteers probably worked together to carry in the small- and medium-sized trees, and it was easy to imagine them laughing and smiling as they did so. The tree that Christ struggled to carry was heavy and roughly-hewn into a large crossbeam. And He wasn't happily helped by a volunteer, but by someone yanked from the crowd.

When I got to the Fifth Mystery, Christ's Crucifixion and Death, I was still looking at the trees, and considered a final contrast: Twinkling strands of lights hung from these branches, while Christ -- the Light of the World -- hung from the cross.

I never really anticipated that, even among these symbols we associate with observing His birth, we can draw from them reminders of the reason for His birth ... Even in the middle of celebration, we can contemplate the crucifixion ... we can hold joy and sorrow, sweetness and pain, life and death, together in our minds. A good reminder that Christ's Passion is not just something to think about during Lent and at Easter, but that it should be on our minds through the whole year, even in the midst of joyous events.

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