Last night I went to the second part of a brilliant Year of Faith lecture on the Sacraments. A part of last nights talk was on the Paschal Mystery, Pasch meaning journey. The journey from slavery to freedom. A journey supported by God. I knew this talk was going to be incredibly painful for me whatever the subject – just by my very presence.
In the mid-2nd century, Bishop Melito of Sardis said – On The Pasch;
‘He came on earth from heaven for suffering humanity, becoming incarnate in a virgin’s womb . . . he put an end to the sufferings of the flesh and through his spirit he became the death of death . . . this is he who in the virgin was made incarnate, on the cross was suspended, in the earth was buried, from the dead was resurrected, to the heights of heaven was lifted up’
I had never read or heard of this piece of writing before now, and yet the final line of one of my poems is;
‘Make Love the death of death.’
I looked on-line for an official description of Pain to accompany this blog
A companion definition to the IASP definition:
Pain is a perception created by the brain in response to input from receptors (i.e. nociceptive, visual, proprioceptive, tactile) and the internal beliefs and emotions drawn from past learning. It is influenced by the state of the nervous system from past and present experiences (i.e. neuroplasticity, sensitivity), and associated with the priming of motor responses (i.e. activity in anterior cingulate cortex and primary motor cortex) and a heightened vigilance to the affected part of the virtual body.
(Adapted from Jones, L. (2007). Non-specific arm pain. In C. Partridge (ed). Recent Advances in Physiotherapy. London: Wiley.)
In fullness I disagree, I believe that pain is God hurting through our wounds, aching and crying with us in the brokenness and depth of our soul, calling humanity to be accountable for inflictions which are not of Love, but which hurt so intensley because of Love known in the God depth of our soul.
I typed ‘pain’ into Google and scoured the internet for an image of pain that represented ‘pain in its wholeness’, as I know pain to be. I just couldn’t find an image that portrayed the absolute PAIN of pain. So I typed into Google images ‘hurting’. The images were contrived, shallow, fake and didn’t reach the feeling I was trying to convey, the feeling that I know of in the absolute core of my everyday living.
I dared to type in Holocaust. Last week I had been evangelising for Kolbe’s Gift, a play coming to the West End in October about Fr Maximilian Kolbe who gave his life in place of a strangers life in Auschwitz. The feeling I wanted to portray was not in those ghastly putrid undignified images, of those poor beautiful dignified human beings who were so brutally annihilated.
Of course they were hurt and hurting and in pain, but the few pictures I saw (and I only could stomach a few) didn’t convey this. Instead they projected a chilling emptiness beyond pain, and a vagrant hollow haunting image of hopelessness and despair which ceased to be hopelessness and despair, and ceased to be hurt and pain, but projected a void where hell and humanity stared right at each other face to face, and right back at me.
The accompanying handout to the Pasch talk said; ‘St Paul called Jesus Christ our Passover because He made the perfect journey which brings us complete freedom. By going through the passion and crucifixion, he destroyed the power of the three great human fears: fear of death, fear of illness or pain, and fear of loneliness.’
Then I realise there is hope in knowing the hurting and pain that I feel; that still inflicts such unrelenting gut-clenching agony, and a grief so acute that on days a terminal death would be a welcome release from the absolute agony of being betrayed, held rejected alive, denied the love and the dignity of being welcomed and treated equally to that of my fellow Catholic parishioners, humiliated as criminal because of Love. Instead living with the terminal pain inflicted so unnaturally by mans method so archaic and cruel, that Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven becomes thwarted by a living Hell.
And then I found the only image that could possibly sum up the excruciating pain.