“Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
your only Son was lifted up
that he might draw the whole world to himself.
May we walk this day in the way of the cross
and always be ready to share its weight,
declaring your love for all the world.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.”
This is a prayer that is said at the start of the time of Morning Prayer in Holy Week, the days leading up to Easter. It is a blessing directed to God—that is, a recognition of the ‘fit-ness’ or fit-for-purpose of God’s nature—that invites us to notice that God is not indifferent to human sorrows and grief, but that it is in God’s very coming alongside us in the experience of suffering that we may be drawn into that place of reconciliation, of wholeness, that is found in Jesus Christ.
And walking in this way, we may discover that an acquaintance with sorrow is our blessing also, that only the person who identifies with sorrow and grief is truly a person at all, one who is formed by and for compassion.
We expend so much energy trying to shield ourselves, and those whom we love, from the sorrows and grief of life—I weep every time I hear a parent say, “I just want my children to be happy”—and our efforts contribute to the pushing-apart of the whole world, to its destruction. We have never needed Holy Week more than we do now. Lord, have mercy.