Posts Tagged With: Triduum

Trinity Love – in Jesus – Beckons, Waits

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O soul, return, for Jesus Christ is calling you with hands outstretched on the cross; return, for the whole abyss of the Trinity stands ready for your coming.

See how patiently He waited – oh how long He waited for you!….He was mercifully expecting your return!…
Return, O soul: Christ is waiting for you on the cross. His head is inclined for a kiss, His arms are spread out for an embrace, and His hands open in a gesture of giving. His body is stretched in a position of total offering; His feet are attached so that He will remain with you; His side is open to let you in.

[Bonaventure, “Soliloquy on the Four Spiritual Exercises”  I:4-38, 39. Engl. trans. Jose de Vinck, Works of Bonaventure, Vol. III – Patterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1966, 69.]

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Categories: Triduum | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Christ Alive! Burst Into Explosive Songs of Joy!

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Christ behind us in all our yesterdays.
Christ with us in our today.
Christ before us in all of our tomorrows.
Alpha and Omega, Christ, Lord of all!

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven!
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendor;
The sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen!
His glory fills the earth!
The trees thunder their praises,
And loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet throughout all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendor, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

[excerpt from Exultet in Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbria Community]
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And an Easter Prayer for you, friends/fellow journeyers/disciples:
 

May Christ alive, raised by His Abba,
give us peace and light in every darkness,
song and joy and dance that inspires us to see as He sees;

foolish exuberant wonder in the beauty of moments,
the extravagance of creation – in microcosm and macrocosm,
and a partnership in praise with creation’s voice.
 
 
May we grow – with grace – a committed humble love,

patterned on Christ’s,
that serves and celebrates;

committing to real presence

with those he would have us love as he loves us –
fragile, beautiful, frustrating, beautiful people –
the focus of Trinity-Love and deepest delight.

Christ alive, our love,
guide and tutor us.
But this Easter day, we dance!

Categories: Easter, General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Good Friday Prayer

We coSAMSUNGme to be with you, Lord.
We will remain,
open-vulnerable-empty,
inviting Spirit to hold us here and with.
Whatever we feel or think matters little.
We know what suffering and dying is,
and we honor yours with attending-tending-listening
as witnesses and companions.
We do not understand, grasp, capture.
We breathe with you.
And would hold you tenderly, stroke your forehead,
tell you our heart, look deeply into your eyes,
protect you from every harm.
And yet, as happens, we cannot protect you (or anyone).
As Risen One,
teach us/transform us SAMSUNG
with Trinity love as we remain here,
by your side, with your dying.
It is not easy.
May the beauty of creation and spring
hearten us with hope that dances, even today,
joy that is birthed deeper than death,
and love that embraces your ‘givenness’
and finds courage to commit
to being entirely given ourselves.
We remember.  We celebrate. We believe.
Categories: Easter, Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dazed to Dancing: Depending Disciples

United with the moment by moment story of Holy Week, today an empty tomb and a Jesus transformed turns we dazed disciples to dancing delighters.  Jesus is raised!  Abba has raised him!  Some have seen, others believed, many have witnessed – and we rejoice!  Hearts just broken are invited to soar!

“You changed my mourning into dancing!” (Ps. 30:12) 

In the midst of the Easter Vigil last evening, a few verses (of so many) particularly caught me.  In Exodus 14, Moses instructs the complaining freed and fearful Israelites, who are thinking it might have been better for them to be slaves in Egypt:  “Fear not!  Stand your ground, and you will see the vistory the Lord will win for you today.  These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.  The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

So many places in scripture remind us that it is God who acts.  Our job is to know ourselves as little, dependant, blessed, cared for, provided for, precious, called, chosen – and to not get in the way.  Remain.  Be still.  Keep still.  Watch.  Wait.  Be Awake.  In the midst of the holy night we have just commemorated, the mystery shows Jesus in wait.  It is Abba who comes to the tomb.  It is God who raised Jesus from the dead.  God’s name is faithfulness, presence, life, love, hope.

Therese of Lisieux comes to mind here.  She knew herself as little, and that littleness was great, as it highlighted the greatness of God who cared for her.  It made her a child who ran to the arms of Jesus whenever she needed to be lifted, calling his arms her elevator, as she had no way to climb any height of perfection.  Her perfection was in trust and leaning, depending and hoping, and in knowing it was God’s desire that would make her whole and holy.  “All is grace.”

Yesterday we noted the women who remained by the tomb, feeling what they felt, being near the One they loved.  Loss has stilled them.  And Jesus, with all human life poured out, had been carried and closed in that tomb, more than stilled.  Past the point of waiting, in death the utter emptiness of the house of his body cries out:  Where has he gone?  Where are you hiding?  And the one Jesus named Abba answers first with ripped curtain and thunder clap – and then with rolled stone and empty burial cloths.  He is NOT here!  He has been raised!  He goes before you!  Do not look for him among the dead.  Go!  He will come to you!

Jesus ever goes before us.  His living and dying and rising are his own – and they are ours.  United with him, we disciples live too these mysteries.  And we remember that dancing is the proper response to what God does in our lives.  Leaping and spinning are in order (see last year’s Easter blog post at https://inspirited.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/leap-and-spin/ or Northumbria Community’s reading for Easter).  Emotionally the change is a quick one, and we sputter and breathe to catch up.  All the pain of Friday (Jesus’ and ours – and all the world’s and creation’s) is more than real, but the real-est real, the truest true, the surest sure is the glory of this day, the amazement of God’s action and life, the eternal of the Creator of the Universe’s specific invitation to union with the Trinity in love and forever.

All chains break.  All tears shared, held precious, and resolved in laughter.  All ruptures healed.  All limping mended.  All lacks filled.  All thirst quenched.  All hunger satisfied.  All darkness enlightened.  All longing filled.  And because this is all provided by a lavish God whose very identity is an extravagant insanely committed love, the abundance is WAY over the top.  (Like 5 loaves and 2 fish making TONS of leftovers!).  And we can collaborate with it!  That is our mission and call!  Alleluia!

Can we touch this amazement today?  Perhaps we can be reassured by Moses’ words.  “These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.”  Whatever makes us each fear re-capture by what hounds us, and tempts us to despair and to settle for a known enslavement  – this we are rescued from.  Depend on the God who acts in raising Jesus, who whirls and dances with and over our coming to him with his Beloved son.  And dance your way to serve and tend and care for – his sheep, the earth, the poor, your family, the annoying, the hurting, the old, the young.

“Fear not…be not discouraged!  The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals…  At that time I will bring you home…  when I bring about your restoration beofre your very eyes, says the Lord.”  (Zephaniah 3: 16b-20 excerpts)

God brings about our restoration, our rescue, our redemption.  We may not even know what that means.  And that’s alright.  Regardless, we can learn to lean and remain and be still.  We can put on our dancing shoes and kick up some joy!  We can pray to depend when we’re dazed, to trust when we feel tried, and to look for the evidence of the loving gathering raising action of the Creator of all.  And we can tend to one another in this confidence.

Happy Easter one and all!  And may the season bless you with new ways to be, a new joy, and a closeness and peace in the presence of the Risen Jesus.  Measuring the mystery is useless.  Dancing the delight as disciples – this can lighten our hearts and be witness of a something more we still are learning about.  Blessed Easter journeyings.

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Facing the Tomb – Heart Broken Open

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.”  (Matt. 27:61)  Holy Saturday is the day of grief, the stunned silence of despair-tinged loss, the “I must be with him – I can’t leave him” movement of hearts who need to be with the one who has died.  Wakes in modern times emerge partially from the tradition of watching and guarding the dead.  And the women who stay facing the tomb are guards for Jesus.  They mirror God’s own presence, celebrated in the psalm:

From where will my help come?  My help comes from the Lord…  The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life.  The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.  (Ps. 121)

They must have wondered why help did not come.  And no doubt their thoughts were incomplete and incoherent, as the just-now bereaved experience.  But their presence is everything.  Courage, love, abiding, poverty, need, grief, grace.  They honor Jesus’ coming and going – and in this sacred companioning of the One they love are, no doubt, joined by his Abba too, who also watches and guards, grieves and waits, within time and beyond it.

Leonard Bowman in A Retreat with St. Bonaventure (quoted in Good Friday focused post) notes of Magdalen:  “Hope… she clings there, waiting – stunned by the silence of God, her heart suspended in that stillness beyond despair where hope still lingers without any tangible shape or assurance.”

Bowman’s reflection on this Holy Saturday experience continues with a dialogue between the believer – who is hearing and experiencing the sacred story – and his guide.  On Good Friday, this believer found himself in terror, falling, and in darkness.  Now:

Believer:  “My heart is spinning in darkness… And yet, while there is nowhere to stand and nothing to cling to, still the feeling of falling has softened, the terror of the dark has receded.  Now I seem to be… it is a little like floating, as if I am borne up somehow in this whirling darkness.  The terror of falling and the fear of darkness yield as the ‘I’ falls away and the heart is broken open, without claims and without defenses.”

Guide:  “It is a gift of God that your heart may enter into these stories, touch and be touched.”

Believer:  “I thought I was lost when the whirlwind tore me loose…”     [NOTE: reference to experience of Good Friday]

Guide:  “You were lost.  How else do you expect you are now being borne upward…?”

Believer:  “Is that what is happening?  It feels rather like floating in emptiness.”

Guide:  “Wait.”

With Magdalene and the other Mary, that is what we do.  Heart broken open, we wait and guard and watch and ache.  We know the next moment’s story, but our presence to this longing and pain and ache which is about how much we love — this will hollow out our hearts.  The invitation to remain facing the tomb is one that will form us in ways we cannot even imagine.

There are life seasons that are this Holy Saturday experience, and many (perhaps some of us) who live in them now.  They are difficult times where courage is just in remaining and pouring out our hearts like water in the presence of the Lord (Lamentations 2:19a).  Let us pray for those living this season.  As we approach the next moment, let us pray too for those in the spinning darkness and perhaps terror that is the Good Friday moment; and for those in any life/faith/spirit moment of the Triduum.  Wherever they and we are, our Lord has and is already there.  United with him, we and those we care about are safe.  This is where it is wonderful that our God’s name is WITH – Emmanuel – God WITH us.  Hope will not disappoint, we are told (Romans 5).  Face whatever tomb, with heart broken open, and know the invitation from God to be exactly who you are exactly where you are with him — and may this moment of yours be a place of holy encounter and tender grace.

Magdalene and Mary, remain-ers and guards, teach us and be with us.  Lord who lies entombed, give us hope in the midst of all death/s.  We hold on and wait for what the next moment will show us.  You have entered all our tombs to not only heal, but die with us and for us, and before us.   Wake us to you with us.  Amen.

This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner…” (Hebrews 6: 19-20a)

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Spinning in the Darkness

Presence to yesterday’s commemoration – Good Friday – left me speechless, unable to really share much here.  There is a power in re-living these days with Jesus as full days with mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights.  On Holy Thursday night, after the vigil, the betrayal and denial and arrest play in our imaginations.  Then the “trial” – and a Jesus silent or speaking (depending on which Gospel you attend to) – who stands alone, asked about truth.  Morning light brings crowds calling for crucifixion, thorns and lashes, and condemnation.  Eventually there is an excruciating trip with a cross through streets and to a hill, and unspeakable loss and psychological pain along with the physical.  The passion leads us to places where it is hard to get footing, and perhaps to memories of other “passions” in our lives or in others and, I hope, a tender fierce honoring of the suffering of others.

I have been re-reading these days A Retreat with St. Bonaventure by Leonard Bowman, which I highly recommend.  In it there is prose-poetry (yes, a combination!) that is the prayer of the believer as s/he encounters moments in Jesus’ life.  See if these selections taken from reflections on the experience of Jesus’ death speak to you.  And find a sister-mother-disciple-presence with you in this place, and in your own passion-ing and darkness living.

Encountering Jesus in the Conflict of Death (excerpted from pp. 160-1, 164)

HELP!  The storm is tearing me loose…  there is no footing, and nothing to grab hold of!  I’m falling, spinning in the darkness…

Yes, you must go through this.  Now there is no help that you can know or feel.  In this darkness the strongest faith reveals that it is faith, not a fact you have in your hand.  The firmest hope reveals that it is a promise, not a thing possessed.  Now you know that letting go means losing everything that you can relay on for support and assurance.  Everything falls away. . . and now you spin helplessly in the feeling of falling. 

What is happening to me?

Your “I” is falling away.  Your heart must wait, be shattered, endure.

… Mary stands silent, oblivious to the confusion about her.  She looks only at the hanging body of her son.  She doesn’t know!  She cannot see ahead to what God will make of this!  She too is caught in the whirlwind, and everything she has lived for hangs dead before her…. Her path has led into darkness, and with Jesus’ death she must let go of… everything.  It is as if she has died with him.  She is crucified with Christ.  But, she does not yet know the rest.  For now, she endures.  Where is God?  He has spoken by angels or by thunder before.  Why is he silent to her now, of all times?

Voices and visions are for the beginning of the path.  God’s presence now is beyond what we know or feel, beyond what is possible to know or feel.  His word is silence now; his brightness is darkness.  Otherwise how shall we pass through the veil, beyond into God?  But for now, silence and darkness.

But what can we do for Mary?  Be silent.  Wait with her.

…Stay close to Mary in your spinning darkness.  You will call on her steadfastness as your refuge.

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Leap and Spin!

The invitation to Leap and Spin feels utterly appropriate this morning. And so I share words once more from the Northumbria Community’s resource. May you experience as well as believe that darkness is driven back. May you leap and spin! May you dance with creation!  Alleluia – Lumen Christi!

Blessings one and all! – Joanne

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven.
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendour;
the sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen. His glory fills the earth.
The trees thunder their praises,
and loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet through all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendour, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When All is Dark, and Hope is Buried

This day we often speak of waiting and, though that’s certainly part of our story, this day after Jesus’ death for the early disciples had no light in sight.  I know I will go to the Easter Vigil tonight, though my heart is not yet in that place.  Still, I know it.  I live in different space than those close to Jesus that first day after when I’m sure they could not understand how the sun rose or time kept apace.  All had stopped for them, and they had no idea about the next.  A reflection from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer includes these words:

When all is dark,
and Hope is buried,
it is hard to trust

The women outside the tomb were not waiting for Easter, they longed to be with the one they loved who was irrevocably, inexplicably, definitively dead.   They, like the other disciples, were likely in grief’s fog and found it hard to function.  But these women knew they wanted to be close.  They could not let him go.  They’d seen death creep upon him, and saw him part.  Yet some familiar part of him was here – his body.  Hold on.  Collapse here.  No words.  Even silence was silent. 

Long ago I read an old favorite book in verse on Mary.  Some of you may be familiar with it – A Woman Wrapped in Silence.  I remember little of it now, but one image has remained with me.  In it, the author describes Joseph as protecting the space around Mary.  I’ve often thought that there is much love in standing guard, protecting, cherishing around those we care about a certain space that they need for them, for a work, for something that is emerging.  There is a deep valuing of the other, and a trust in who they are and what is being worked in them that is so expressed.  Today I want to so protect the space around those grieving who lived and walked and ate with, and loved Jesus in person.  That Jerusalem day, their hearts were broken, their minds confused.  They did not know what we know – that the Easter Vigil comes with new fire, paschal candle, water, word, and sacrament.  And yet something was being worked out in each of them – for they would be witnesses and disciples of amazing fortitude and joy in days and years ahead. 

Today – and any day – when all is dark and hope is buried and trust is hard -may we find the places and the people who protect the space we need as we struggle or mourn or dwell in the silence within silence.  And may we be protectors of others – those close to us and far – who find hope so buried. 

Thoughts and ideas paled for the women who had followed Jesus in the simple need to be physically present outside the tomb.  May we each find ways to let go of thoughts and ideas, images and hints, and simply enter silence this day.

Blessings on your Holy Saturday.

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I Place My Life into Your Hands

Holy Thursday.  This is my body.  Yours.  All of me, I give you. 

Good Friday.  This is my all.  Yours, Abba.   

There’s a pattern here; a pattern of handing over, pouring out, giving, abandoning – whether or not others understand or value the gift. 

Jesus lived life, and lived his anguish and his death.  And whatever he was in any moment, he gave and offered.  He poured it out without stinting.  This is a lesson about living and dying it seems we all need to learn.  It is not an easy one.  It has nothing to do with giving “in order to” — create a need for others to give back to me, to look good, to benefit, to get the answers I need, to feel complete, to have reached some achievement, to settle something, to be better than, to earn love (which, by the way, we can’t!).  Pouring oneself out in love is a way of being, not a strategy.

Trinity – God who are (as opposed to ‘is’ in singular) – are the persons who are this love in constant dynamic pouring.  Jesus’ living was an ‘earthing’* of this way of being, and a way in which we could see it, and trace the pattern ’til we learn it for our own lives’ implementation. 

A lifetime ago, a wise high school religion teacher I had (as a student!) said that if we remove Jesus from his humanity then we will easily find reasons not to follow in his footsteps.  “How can I be like him?  He’s God!  I’m not God.  I can’t be like him.  No one can.” Instead, in Jesus we find the user’s manual for the way to live a meaningful human life.  Live in accord with our hard wiring.  Learn to be the love that is constantly outpouring in compassion and care and self gift.  This is not to say be a wimp or have no boundaries.  But it is to say that in this moment – the only one we have – give all to whatever and whoever is before you.  It’s the only real way to live and to love.

The cross has always brought me to silence.  It does so even more now, in light of my own experiences of grief and loss.  At death, human life and consciousness drains out of the physical body which has, in some way, broken or tired or worn out.  We can see the person ebbing, like a wave pulled back in to the ocean’s vastness. 

I have learned, under the tutelage particularly of Franciscan theology and spirituality, to see Jesus’ death on the cross as God’s ultimate outpouring in love without reserve.  St. Clare of Assisi would have us gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate the one on the cross – and so become transformed and beautiful in the light of such love.  She would have us be confident in the one “in Whose embrace we are already caught up” (Clare of Assisi’s letters to Agnes of Prague).  St. Francis, her dear friend, focuses on following in the footsteps of Christ.   We are all invited to live and to die as Jesus lived and died.  And to love each other, creation, the universe – ALL – as we live, by giving all we are to whatever and whoever is in our specific vocational and daily path. 

Jesus indeed may be heard praying today, “I place my life in your hands.”  May he teach us, each and all, the way to living self giving love.  May we find the joy in living and giving this way – as it is what we are created to be and do.  And, in little and big moments, may we draw strength from our relationship with the one who lived this in his human life too and who told us he would be with us always.  With him, and in the courage of the Spirit, perhaps may we learn to pray too “I place my life in your hands” over and over, until the day we too are the ebbing tide on the way to the vast ocean.   That moment’s ability to hand over life will be informed by all these others.  And we will have learned by then, with Jesus, to hand it over to friends, to God, to ministry, to mission, to healing, to compassion, to making a difference, to showing God’s presence in the world. 

This Good Friday may we know how deep is God’s love for us, and receive it deeply that it may transform us (as Clare advises).  And may we look at the cross and the one there, and allow ourselves to see, to witness, perhaps to mourn, to wait.  His life and love are not lost, but we must stay by the tombs often in order to come to a new place.  I’ll meet you in vigil there, with the women who knew nowhere else to go.  Honor the mystery of today, and let it settle about and within you, between and among us.   

[* Anthony Gittins speaks of Jesus as the “earthing” of the Missio Dei – God’s mission.  I love this way of naming the Incarnation’s reality as God “earthed”.] 

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Watch This Night

On Holy Thursday we might recall the words of “Stay and Watch with Me”, fashioned from Jesus’ request of his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I want to rewind to earlier in the evening and invite a careful watching there.

Jesus.  Washing each person’s feet.  He’s gotta’ know he’s in trouble, and that time is limited.  If you’ve ever been part of a foot washing, you know there is an intimacy in caring for another in this way.  Jesus washes each foot tenderly, thoroughly – and looks into the eyes of each individual tenderly, thoroughly.  Does he hold on to each face, etching in his memory the twitches and eyebrow slants, the cuts of the jaws, the moving muscle in certain cheeks?  Is he touching them with his eyes as a blind man touches faces with his fingers to sense the contours?  Is there mourning and anticipated loss in the intimacy of washing and looking? 

Jesus.  Putting all of himself without question in their – and our – hands.  No strings.  No expectations.  No ifs.  Just “I want to give you all – ALL – of me.  And I’ll be with you.  Remember me.”  Again, I imagine the eye contact.  I look up into his face as he places the bread in my own hands in my imagination… and as he says, with longing, “I am yours now – entirely.  I give you all of me, freely.”  This moment of gift is for each of us.

My mind’s eye starts then to sketch the shape of his face, to look for the strength of hands and body as he leans to wash feet or moves about.  I want to hold onto his physical presence too.  I know this way of looking at visiting family members or friends who will soon leave – a searching cherishing gaze that hits RECORD, letting form and features  be stored to hold on to in their absence.  I find I want to ‘squirrel away’ these mind’s eye pictures of Jesus too, and wonder if the disciples knew to do so.

And tonight the words of John 15 that I love so much echo, spoken aloud by Jesus:  “As the Father has loved me, so I love you.  Live in my love.”  Whether they were said that way exactly or not that night, the words are unerringly true.  In the same way that the Father loves Jesus, with that same strength and depth Jesus tells us he loves each of us and asks only that we live in that love.  If we do, we will learn to live from being God’s beloved one too. 

Watch Jesus this night hold on to each person he loves with his eyes.  Then move to the next moment which will take him to the garden and anguish and betrayal.  He will be ripped away from these companions who mean so much to him – and they will run from him in fear for themselves, and anguish of their own.

This night is full of partings and promises, self-gift and the invocation to remember, traitorous kisses and weeping women, denials and communions, encounters with power and silence. 

Watch not the night, but watch the man, this Jesus of Nazareth.  What does he experience?  What might he feel?  What does he long for?  What keeps him upright?  Can you see how much he loves those he celebrated with, and how he hates to leave them?  Let what you see sink deep and rattle around in your consciousness.  And just be with him.

These days of Triduum are all about that; being with the One who is God with us. 

Wishing you every good thing in the light of all this night holds in memory for Jesus, and for our own lives.  Have a blessed Triduum.

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