Station Fourteen: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
Updated for 2020.
As we live through this time of sadness, loss and isolation, I relive this vigorous argument with God and the universe. Of what good are the biblical promises of favor and protection when people are suffering and dying? There are losses for which we have no adequate words. Yet words and story and connection are the sources of our comfort. In the prayer below, the part that I find most compelling is that we worship a God who descended into hell. I stubbornly embrace the idea that even in hell wherever we find it, we are not cut off from God. Deo Volente.
Adapted from an Orthodox Funeral Hymn
What earthly sweetness remains unmixed with grief? What glory stands immutable on the earth? All things are but feeble shadows, all things are most deluding dreams, yet one moment only, and death supplants them all. But in the light of your face, O Christ, and in the sweetness of your beauty, give rest to all whom you have created, in as much as you love your children.
We weep and lament when we think upon death, and behold our beauty created in the likeness of God lying in the tomb disfigured, bereft of glory and form. O the marvel of it! What is this mystery concerning us? Why have we been delivered to corruption? Why have we been wedded to death? Truly, as it is written, by the command of God who gives the departed rest.
You are the God who descended into hell, and loosed the bonds of the captives: Give rest, also, to the souls of your children.
In the place of your rest, where all your saints repose, give rest, O Savior, to the souls of your children, preserving them to the life of blessedness which is with you, O Lord who loves your children.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen
As we conclude these meditations on the Stations of the Cross, we remain in the silence and darkness of Holy Saturday. Is there a hint of a sunrise? I will leave it to Neuhaus to finish this station and point us forward.
Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended to a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition, and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence.
…. Meanwhile, if we keep very still, there steals upon the silence a song of Easter that was always there. On the long mourners’ bench of the eternal pity, we raise our heads, blink away our tears and exchange looks that dare to question, “Could it be?”