Aaron and Christian and Joe. It sounds like the start of a nursery rhyme. Aaron and Christian and Joe. Today they are three adults in professional fields. But I first met Aaron and Christian and Joe when I served at the Cathedral in La Crosse. They were high school freshmen. They were altar servers then, good ones. Aaron and Christian and Joe took their turn serving the Stations of the Cross on the Friday evenings of Lent. They were also devoted friends.
One Friday evening, as we started down the side aisle to pray the stations, one of them started a giggle. As an adult, I have no idea, of course, what prompted it. In what mysterious corner of the human mind, or heart, or ribs or elbow does any giggle start? Of course, nothing silly is so silly as when it occurs in a reverent setting. The giggle became contagious. We walked through the third station when Jesus falls under the weight of the cross. Giggles! Jesus meets his mother. Giggles! He meets the sorrowing women of Jerusalem. More giggles still. I tried to stifle their giggles, first by ignoring them, then with a frown. Any attempts I made simply exaggerated their giggles. Oh, they tried. Some were swallowed with deliberate intent, only to burst out again; they were smothered into the sleeves of their alb; they were disguised briefly in handkerchiefs and deep breaths. The guilty parties tried to stop by avoiding eye contact. All to no avail! The giggles were with us through the third fall and nailing on the cross, now rising, now lowering in intensity. Because of their efforts to stop, I doubt that any of the faithful even noticed. But the more serious the efforts to hold them back, the more prolonged were the smothered rumblings. The giggling Aaron and Christian and Joe!
When it was all over I had enough memory of my own youthful behavior not to scold. Somehow, for Aaron and Christian and Joe it had been a magic moment. Of course it was inappropriate, just as itís inappropriate to pray the Stations of the Cross on Easter Sunday. But, after all, it was only a matter of bad timing! Or was it recognizing the wholeness of the mystery? On Good Friday, the sacred liturgy always mentions the Resurrection. On Easter Sunday, the sacred liturgy always pays tribute to the role of the cross. Somehow, the entire mystery of Christís passage from death to life is always present. Who am I to scold them for being in touch with the humor and joy that are the wonderful consequences of the cross of Jesus?