Tenabrae Service

When I saw the notice on the tenabrae (Latin for darkness or shadows) service to be held on the evening of Good Friday, I told myself that I would certainly like to be present, and so, by the grace of God, I was.  It lasted about an hour in an atmosphere of silence and darkness, meaningfully prepared by the altar servers. It was a little different from previous sessions that I had been going to in the past few years. Each one seems to be different, and each one is grace-filled. Praise God!

Fr Ferdinand OCD gave a short input on how our Lady and the disciples of Jesus could most likely have felt defeated when Jesus died on Good Friday. Jesus had given his life freely in death and the fruit of his action was not yet evident. It was still a time of waiting in hope and faith on Holy Saturday.  We believe, however, that Mary the Mother of Jesus had faith and her faith was nourished and accompanied her from the time of the Incarnation of her Son.  

It is the same for us. We are in a kind of darkness and we have to accept and embrace it in order to grow deeper in faith and hope. The Lord may allow things to happen in our lives – like failure or what we don’t expect. But if we can see the will of God then whatever he allows will always be good for us.

St John of the Cross defines this time as a dark night of the soul. It is the inflow of God into one’s soul, and when God wants to be closer to us, he lets us enter the dark night, what we don’t readily embrace or accept because it is usually unpleasant and challenging. Yet in faith we can hope and if we are willing to enter into the dark night, we can be drawn a step closer to the Lord. This may manifest itself in difficult ways that we don’t understand. As we continue in our meditation and wait for the Resurrection of Christ, let us imitate the example of Mary who in faith and hope awaited Jesus, knowing full well that what God initiates he will bring to completion for our good.

The service ended with the Strepitus which is a great noise that symbolises the earthquake that occurred at the time of Jesus’ death. We generated this noise by slamming our thick hymnals on the pews. I must say we did it with zest. Then everyone departed in silence, and outside the church I saw the full moon in the night sky, a lovely sight to behold. Praise God!