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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Good Friday


Well, here we are in the home stretch, awaiting the grande finale. It's Holy Week. This week we contemplate as we walk with Jesus in His final days.

Not really final, though, as it turned out.

I've been reading about Abrahan Lincoln again. I have never been able to determine what made me into a Lincoln fanatic, but I can't get enough of reading about Honest Abe....although I'm not sure how honest he really was. He was a great manipulator. But then he was rather honest about that.

The book I'm reading, "Manhunt", is actually about the 12 day search for John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators, so it covers not only the final days of Lincoln, but also the final days of the famous handsome actor.

Like Jesus on Palm Sunday, Lincoln was having a happy time just before his assassination. The war was over, he was newly inaugurated, he had some free time to spend with his wife and he was off to see a play. He gave a happy speech to a hopeful nation from a window in the White House because everyone loved him so much they yelled for him to come out and say a few words.

Unfortunately, Mr. Booth heard the speech in which Mr. Lincoln mentioned that he was feeling so good that he might just grant citizenship to the Negroes. Mr. Booth, who had planned to kidnap Mr. Lincoln while the war was still on, had abandoned his hair brained scheme because the war had ended and all was lost. The speech put him right over the edge. Worse than you feel when people insist on burying St. Joseph upside down to sell their house.

Not that there was anything he could do about it. That is, until the morning of April 14th when he stopped by Ford's theater to pick up his mail. He just happened to overhear that the Lincolns would be attending the play that night.

April 14th, 1865 was Good Friday.

Poor Mr. Lincoln. Had he been a Catholic he wouldn't have been at the theater on Good Friday and he might still be with us.

He probably is still with us. Abe Lincoln's funeral lasted for weeks because his body was sent by train from Washington to Springfield Illinois. The train stopped everywhere so a grieving nation could pay tribute. As a result, the Great Emancipator was embalmed over and over again.

Anyhow, whenever I read about the final days before a tragedy, I am always struck by the little things that could have been, things that would have averted the whole mess. If only Lincoln had been Catholic. If only he had leaned over the railing of his theater box an inch more, Booth would have missed. If only Mr. Booth had skipped picking up his mail that day....

As a child I always felt the same way about the last days of Christ. I wished Jesus and Mr. Lincoln had each died a peaceful death as an old, old man. I thought Jesus could have just gone ahead and risen after that. Why not? Well, we know why not.

I think I might be delirious from fasting. At least I didn't throw Jesus into the Lincoln/Kennedy assassination comparison. Both Lincoln and Jesus died on Good Friday. Both were Great Emancipators....I better have some lunch.

26 comments:

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Dear Sister,

Would you mind adding my blog to your links?

God bless

Jackie

Kevin said...

Sister, I enjoy your writing style and your blog. You're a riot.

I am new to the faith, and I was wondering, why wouldn't President Lincoln have gone to the theater that Good Friday if he was Catholic?

Fouquette Racing said...

Another fabulous post! You never disappoint!

jennerickknits said...

Sister,

I've been reading your blog for quite a while now, and it's a favorite. I also love reading about Lincoln, and I wonder if you've ever read "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell. She writes about her trips around the U.S. researching the deaths of Lincoln, McKinley and Garfield. Fascinating stuff, and almost as witty as you, Sister.



If your local library doesn't have it, I'd be happy to burn my audio CD of the book and send it to you. (Completely legal, according to my tech support/husband) You may e-mail me at jennerickknits at yahoo dot com if you wish.

Anonymous said...

This is the anon. who wishes to thank all who gave the tips on books of the faith. I'm anon. because I don't know how to set up an account. My kids will be home this week-end maybe thay will help me. It is calving season so time isn't mine to schedule. My next question is... what does it mean to 'offer it up'? What does this really do? I will-eventually check back, but I have cows to tend so please be patient with me.

4HisChurch said...

Holy Week greetings from Gettysburg, Sister!

Monica said...

Kevin, he would have been at his local parish for Stations of the Cross. My in laws had a neighbor who was a protestant minister and one year on good friday they were all gathered in their front yard before going to the local steakhouse for a party. Bleeeech.

Kevin said...

Monica, thanks for the reply.

Maybe I just don't understand the thought process and maybe I haven't seen or heard what the Church requires of us on Good Friday, but are we required to maintain a certain level of misery on this day? Certainly, I understand the somberness of the holy day of our Lord's crucifixion, but is it objectionable to enjoy the evening with friends and family?

Why do I feel like I have just opened myself up to the "wrath" of Sister Mary Martha? Have I just thrown her an alley oop pass that she is about to slam dunk with LeBron James-esque ferocity?

Kasia said...

Kevin,

For Catholics, Good Friday is a day of both fasting and abstinence, meaning that unless we're somehow exempt, we significantly reduce our food intake and don't eat any meat.

I don't know if it's accurate to say that we have to maintain "a certain level of misery" - that sounds rather more like self-flagellating with razor-tipped whips, chanting Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa and walking around the sanctuary on one's knees... :-p

I think we're expected to, as you suggested, recognize the somberness and gravity of the day of Our Lord's Passion. And getting together for a big steak party with one's friends and family might not be the best way to do so...

Cris said...

Kevin~
We celebrate on Easter for our grief on Good Friday.

My Lord has died... how could I not be grieving.
By the way, SMM will never slam dunk you-unless of course you bury St. Joe right side up! :)

Eddie said...

Sister I have a pair of questions I need to find an answer to; do you believe that people can be born with some kind of predetermined instinct to oppose evil in this world? the other question I have is about the Holy Mother and if she watches over families, through generations, I mean; wah do you think about this?
Thank you and God bless

Dan E. said...

OK, I do have a question and I could probably Google it and get the answer, but you're more fun. And it may sound like a smart alleck question worthy of a rap on the kucnkles with a ruler, but I honestly don't know the answer. Just why IS it called Good Friday? To state the obvious...what is so good about it? Jesus died and Lincoln died. And as Kasia has said, Good Friday is a day of both fasting and abstinence, neither of which sounds very good to me. So would you please enlighten me as to where the term comes from?

Thanks, Sis!

D. McEwan said...

But then, if Lincoln had been a Catholic, he wouldn't have been president, as this country didn't break through the prejudice and elect a Catholic President for another century, so Booth wouldn't have had a grudge against him.

Who knows? If Lincoln had been a Catholic, maybe someone the south liked would have been elected and the whole Civil War would have been put off for a while longer. (I think it was inevitable at some point.)

And what if Booth had been a Catholic? He'd have had to wait to kill Lincoln another day.

Of course, Jesus was resurrected by God, while Lincoln was resurrected 100 years later, by Walt Disney, not long after our first Catholic president met Lincoln's fate.

And if the southerners had actually been the good Christians they always claimed to be, we wouldn't have had slavery at all.

If Booth had been as successful an actor as his brother, he might not have sought fame in less savoury ways. Beware the underachieving actor.

Wait a minute! I'm an underachieving actor! I don't like where this is going.

Round and round.

cattiekit said...

Not that this has anything to do with Good Friday: :>)

Lincoln was sort of a reluctant emancipator of the slaves, so I don't think that had all that much to do with him getting elected back before the Civil War.

His vice president was from the South. Didn't seem like that did much for holding off/stopping the Civil War either.

There was a lot of heat going on about new states being either slave or free. That had something to do with the Civil War.

The Southern states just seemed like they thought they could exist as a separate country.

Plus being fond of slavery, since their economy couldn't work without it.

I wish we had somebody of Lincoln's caliber running for President these days. (sigh)

d. mcewan: Audioanimatronics = resurrection? (shudder) ;>)

dan e., maybe 'Ster will devote an entire post to Good Friday *on* Good Friday and tell you why it's so good. :>)

cattiekit said...

Anonymous, "offer it up" is covered in SMM's personal style in earlier posts. :>)

Maybe after calving season you'll have time to enjoy the older posts. :>)

Clue: it has to do with the Aggravations of Everyday Life and Souls in Purgatory. ;>)

Monica said...

Seems to me she'll need to understand the concept of 'offering up' DURING calving time, so hop over to that other post and read!!! :-)

cattiekit said...

So *true*, monica! :>D

How silly of me to think it could wait. :>}

D. McEwan said...

Cattie,

It was the election of Lincoln, not an abolitionist but opposed to expanding slavery, deeply hated in the south, that triggered the succession of the southern states. They basically took the attitude of "If you won't have the president we want, we'll take out cotton and go home."

His SECOND TERM vice president was from the south, elected well into the war. Obviously Andrew Johnson was not a confederate sympathizer.

The north's economy was as dependant on slavery as the south's. It was the north that bought the raw materials from the south that was produced so much more cheaply because the labor was unpaid. But the north eventually got it's moral house more in order than the south's, even though the abolition of slavery was as severe an economic blow there as in Dixie.

Great as Lincoln was, he has a lot to answer for. Congress was out of session, which was not year-round as now, when the southern states began seceding. Lincoln invented the idea that the states could not secede. There's nothing in the constitution saying they can't. Indeed, governing by consent of the governed, the founding principle of America, pretty much implies the right to retract that consent and leave. Without congressional backing, Lincoln sent troops to Fort Sumpter and started the war. He had no constitutional power to do this, so he invented executive privilege to do it. This non-constitutional power invented by Lincoln gave us Vietnam, and now Iraq.

The southern states refused to send representatives and senators to congress when they went into session months later. This was a stupid error on their part. Had they sent them, they could have impeached Lincoln for making war on American citizens, kicked him out of office, snuffed executive privilege in the process, and then legally seceded without further problem. Given the quality of presidents the south has given us since, such as our current President from Texas, and the joy that is Florida voters, it's almost a shame they didn't go ahead and do that.

But they foolishly thought they could win a war with the north. Oops.

I take it history wasn't your subject. Nor was humor, as the animatronics line is what is called a silly joke.

But you are quite right that we have no one of Lincoln's stature in our political scene today, in either party.

Some years back I saw a production of "Our American Cousin". Lincoln didn't miss much.

Anonymous said...

Monica and Cattiekit, thank you for your comments. I've read Sister's earlier posts. My question is not about offering up.

My question is, Easter is coming and I am not looking forward to it, and what do I do? I would rather rub along in a Lent-like manner. But isn't one purpose of Lent the preparation for Easter? I feel kind of repelled by the prospect of Easter resurrection joy at the moment.

Probably it doesn't matter how I feel about it. But if feelings didn't matter, suffering wouldn't matter --but it does. What practical and conundrum-busting doctrine or custom am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Whoa! What do you not look forward to in Easter? I don't know what doctrine or custom you would be missing but Easter is the greatest of all. Jesus died for ME? I don't deserve that. There is such complete joy in Easter. He gave us salvation. It is the one thing we really need. I get giddy just thinking about Easter. I have trouble staying somber on the days leading up to it. I'm not too crazy about Christmas but Easter, a new beginning, a fresh start, grab hold of this most amazing gift. No one will ever give you anything better in all eternity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 'Non!

Anonymous said...

D. McEwan
Do I understand that Lincoln should not have done what he did, thus purpetuating the unchristian institution of slavery in the U.S., perhaps for decades? Or should the South have been allowed to go its own way, perpetuating slavery for a longer period?

D. McEwan said...

No, I'm not saying what should or shouldn't have happened. I would be happy to not have the south lousing up elections, but of course the end of slavery was an Absolute Good.

I was merely exploring some ironies in Lincoln's history, particularly the way the south could have left the union legally and bloodlessly if they hadn't been pig-headed boobs, and the way that Lincoln decided to defend with American lives a principle - that once you've joined the union, you can not leave it again - which he invented himself, and in the process left us a legacy of the increasingly royal Presidency, something the framers NEVER intended, and in fact were at pains to avoid.

No historical event is all good or all bad. It's always a trade-off. World War II stopped Hitler and the Holocaust, but it gave us the atomic bomb and the ability to exterminate mankind in toto. Hasn't that made all our lives better.

cattiekit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cattiekit said...

D. McE.: Thanks for the history lesson.

I would have enjoyed it a lot more if you *could* have left out the crack about my proficiency in history.

That kind of smacked of some kind of superiority complex.

You should use spell check more if you *really* want to be superior.

The reason I put the ;>) after the comment about audioanimatronics = resurrection was because I *got* the joke.

And I was *joking* in return.

The ;>) is called an *emoticon*, in this case expressing that a pleasantry has been made.

I use them a *lot*.

I'd really like to like you.

It's the Christian thing to do and this is a Christian blog.

Can we start this all over again? I will if you will.

cattiekit said...

D. McE: So tell me this (honestly!) -

If there is no Constitutional provision against secession, why did the rest of the United States fight the Civil War?

Like you said, it wasn't like the North really needed the South to be part of the U.S.

I'd really like to know. No sarcasm or snideness intended.