The Paschal Journey
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
It is a beautiful 70+ degree day as I write this, the first of several secure promises that spring will come once more to this part of the globe. After the extremely cold temperatures of this past winter, and the ‘winters’ we are still experiencing as we witness the devastation in Ukraine (who knows what will have developed by the time this letter reaches your mailbox??), suffering in so many places, losses in our own households and neighborhoods – we are all more than ready for something more spring-like, something we can anchor our hopes to.
As the Lenten season moves closer to the solemnity of Holy Week, we might all ponder the powerful human realities that are expressed in the beautiful liturgies of that week. Perhaps for too long we have focused with great empathy solely on the historical events of Jesus’ last days on earth – certainly a commendable practice. However, we may overlook the fact that what Jesus went through is not altogether different from what is the lot of humanity. The events of Holy Week are a picture of our own lives. We have our Palm Sundays (moments of glory and fanfare –when we get that promotion or celebrate a great sense of accomplishment); our Holy Thursdays (moments of intimacy, tenderness, loving service), our Good Fridays (when pain and rejection are felt so keenly.) We have our Holy Saturdays when we feel empty, lost, numb, and alone, when we feel like God is dead. We have our Easters when we rise in new strength and hope to face our difficulties. We have our Ascensions when we can feel the power of God pouring into us. We have our Pentecosts, our moments of inspiration and mission. Our life reflects the life of the Master. And the cycle repeats itself again and again: dying and rising, dying and rising.
This is the paschal journey – the central mystery of Christianity and, I believe, the central reality and mystery of each of our lives. Thankfully, we are not all at the same stage at the same time, so those of us who are currently experiencing the radiant hope of Easter or the fire of Pentecost can strengthen the hope of those in the Good Fridays or Holy Saturdays of life. Cursillo weekends certainly help bolster that sense of hope and inspiration that feed our souls and the souls of those we meet. As Cursillo has long reminded us, “We go to heaven in bunches.” We are meant to help one another.
Hope: a too often misunderstood word. In general use it is similar to wishful thinking: “I hope we have good weather for planting the field/garden.” “I’m buying this raffle ticket because I hope to win the big cash prize!” This kind of hope always includes an element of doubt that our “hopes” will actually materialize. Christian hope is different: the doubt is removed. Because Christ went before us in dying and rising, we can be absolutely certain that “if we have died with Christ, we shall also live and reign with Christ.” Our sufferings won’t last forever, our winters will always turn to spring, Christ’s love will always win out over evil; we don’t know how or when this will happen, but we have the assurance from Christ himself that this is true.
Christian hope is not Pollyannaism, nor ignorance of suffering. It is to anchor our trust in a God of Love, no matter how stormy the sea may be at times. Let’s go forward, hand in hand, mourning and celebrating together. A Blessed Holy Week to each of you! A blessed Easter, too!
Much love, Sr. Edna