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Looking back on Good Friday

“Did my grade school self really know how to adore this covered cross?”

As elementary school students at St. Monica School/Parish in Chicago, my classmates and I were expected to show up in our parish church on Good Friday morning to participate in silent adoration.

This is the sixth Station of the Cross, where Veronica wipes the face of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross.

And it was silent. I don’t remember any prayers being said; I don’t even remember any prayer books being passed out to help us get through the 30 minutes that we were assigned to be there. Most of all, I certainly don’t remember any of my classmates moving a muscle during that time. We knew this was serious business.

So what did I do during that time? Did my grade school self really know how to adore this covered cross? Was I actually able to meditate on what it meant that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, died for my sins?

I’m not sure I knew then (or even now, for that matter) whether or not I accomplished adoration or meditation. What I do remember is that I was filled with a deep sense of admiration and love for all those characters along the way of the cross and for the man who was crucified there.

Besides Jesus, of course, Veronica was my favorite. “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.” I know I wished I were Veronica – loving, compassionate Veronica.

Simon of Cyrene was a close second. “Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.” I was so happy that someone came to Jesus’ aid even though Simon had to be “urged” to do so. Even then, I knew I was like Simon some of the time. I needed someone to draw me out and encourage me to be brave. And I did have the sense that no one should carry their burdens alone.

I also used to think about Pontius Pilate during the quiet. What if he had been courageous enough to stand up to the crowd and had released Jesus instead of sending him to such a painful death?

Some life lessons were learned in the quiet of St. Monica Church.

This Good Friday, the same characters will be available for my admiration and meditation. This time around, I hope I will be moved to respond to the people in my life right now who need Veronica’s compassion or Simon’s help. Who or what do I need to stand up to in order to make my world, our world, a more peaceful and loving place?

This Good Friday, my adult self knows in a much deeper way that God so loved that world that in the fullness of time, the Christ appeared in the person of Jesus and that has made all the difference. I am still filled with admiration and love.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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