Posts tagged ‘Holy Week’

April 29, 2011

An Even Holier Week

Last week may have been “Holy Week,” but this week—the Octave of Easter—is perhaps even holier.  It struck me only midway through the week that this time deserves some reflection, as well.

I love the incredible depth of the liturgical calendar.  The transition from Lent to Easter is one of the greatest examples.  Easter isn’t just a day; it’s eight days, which extend into a whole season—a season ten days longer than Lent!  I love that after the sacrifices, the focus on penance, and the daily reminders of our need for God’s mercy and grace, we have a celebration that just goes on and on.

In this hemisphere, at least, it’s a time when spring has finally come, the sun is shining (except when it’s raining), and for the first few weeks, at least, it seems like everyone is wearing her favorite dress.  It’s a time we are reminded of the victory, reminded of love, reminded that there is so much good in life.

While I love the symbols and the Scripture that define this season, prayer has been tough this past week.  Coming out on the other side of an intense season, with the opportunity to just relax, watch The Biggest Loser (which continues to inspire me, but more on that later), and eat dessert in the middle of the week, has thrown me off kilter, and it got me thinking.

Is joy more difficult to appreciate than suffering?

How many movies, books, and songs are there about trying to appreciate the good things in life?  Why can it be so difficult to enjoy the things we think we want for ourselves, for our families, when we have them?  Why are we (or why am I, at least) always thinking about the next thing?  The next day’s schedule, the next chore to complete, the next meal to cook?  Sure, part of it is our fast-paced society, but I think part of it is human nature, too.  We are so easily distracted, so easily pulled in myriad directions, that we struggle to focus on the here and now.  To be “present,” as it were.

I’m reminded of a quote from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  (If you haven’t read this, go find a copy and get going.  Like, now.  It’s a play, too, which I hear is phenomenal.  Read the book, then buy tickets.  Okay, tangent over.)  Here it is:

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”

The present is the moment in which we can experience love, grace, life in all its fullness, whether we are formally praying, in conversation with another person, or simply being silent and still.

For me, the start of this Eastertide is as much a time of reflection and renewal as Lent was.  There is still much work to be done, yet now I am reminded that the promise is fulfilled.  And after forty days of keeping this word out of the liturgy, I can again call out, “Alleluia!”

April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:8-11)

Happy Easter!

April 22, 2011

Good Friday

“Our freely chosen penances for Lent by now have begun to grow into virtues within us.  As the Catechism reminds us: ‘Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1804).  As Lent moves along in its final days, our penances may very well be with us after Easter, in the fruit they bear as the virtues of our life.”
— Father James M. Sullivan, O.P, taken from “The Last Days of Lent: Our Passions for the Passion”, Magnificat, April 2011

Most years I struggle with what to do about my Lenten sacrifices once the season has ended.  When I’ve given up sweets, the answer was easy (clearly go back to eating sweets, ASAP!).  But when I’ve added something new into my prayer life—time in a chapel each day or spiritual reading—it’s tough to give those things up, in a sense, and go back to “normal.”

The thought I’ve posted for today puts the transition into Eastertide, and then back into Ordinary Time, in a new and welcome perspective for me.  It’s not the things we do that matter as much as what those things do to us.  We can hold on to the lessons, the virtues, the new understanding of mercy and grace, without necessarily continuing our Lenten practices.

This year there will be some new moderation in our household, inspired by my Lenten observances.  For one thing, John and I are going to attempt limiting dessert to only one night a week and weekends (note: attempt!).  And for another, there is still some spiritual reading I’d like to do that wasn’t available during the season.  But these practices are more about a change in my priorities, a new mindset that I’d like to pursue in the future, than about living by the liturgical calendar.

I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but one of my favorite quotes about prayer is this, “Prayer doesn’t change the situation, it changes you.”  I’m not sure how to credit this, because whoever passed these words on to me told me they came from an episode of Dawson’s Creek.  Go figure.  But now I see that this is very much the case as Lent draws to a close.  I am entering into the Easter season not only with permission for myself to catch up on seven weeks of The Biggest Loser, but more importantly, with a stronger realization of God’s love in my life every day and a new willingness to respond to it with all I have.

A blessed Triduum to you!

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