Holy Week reflections are from this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, The Beauty We Must Hold Fast To: Reflections for Lent 2022. Click here to see all reflections from throughout the Lenten season. Today’s reflection is written by Anne McCarthy, OSB, Pax Christi USA’s national coordinator from 1991-94.

reflection for GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2022

by Anne McCarthy, OSB

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 | Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 | John 18:1-19:42

Now beside the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (Jn 19:25)

I wish I remembered her name, the woman whose death was the first I witnessed. I was only 17 but I remember vividly that she was an elderly, infirm Black woman who had the audacity to complain about her care and demand better in the overcrowded county nursing home. She was then prescribed thorazine to sedate her for weeks until infected bed sores took her life. But in the midst of that truly awful experience, I remember with gratitude the other nurses’ aides I was with that day. Hilda, Martha, and Nancy, one of them African American, two of them white, who were my mentors. They recognized the racist, sexist system that killed her and fought for her with skilled care and loud voices. And then held her hand when she died and softly sang hymns as we tenderly washed her body.

They were the women at the foot of the cross with their anger, rage even, at evil systems and with trembling reverence toward its victims. They invited me into that terrible place with them, the place from which compassion can grow.


  • How have you experienced/witnessed the effects of violent systems?
  • Have you been impacted by faithful disciples in the model of the women at the foot of the cross?

>> Click here to see more resources for prayer, study and action from this Lenten season.

Anne McCarthy, OSB was the national coordinator of Pax Christi USA from 1991-94. She coordinates the online Monasteries of the Heart communities, co-facilitates the Listening Hearts program & is the resource person for Monasteries of the Heart in prisons. She coordinates Benedictines for Peace, leads retreats on nonviolence & monastic spirituality and has been an active member of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

photo credit: jo clarke

5 thoughts on “Reflection for Good Friday, April 15

  1. Thank you for this reflection. My sister is a wonderful nurse and I know many dedicated doctors. However, I have had less than perfect experiences in hospitals similar to what Anne has described here. After the person I was visiting died, I made an appointment with the ombudsman at the hospital. The ombudsman was female and was a doctor. She took notes on what I said, but I
    still wonder if anything has really changed.

  2. Anne, thank you for this beautiful reflection. We are surrounded by so many people who need our compassion. Let us pray that we recognize them and respond positively. Easter Blessings!

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