One week ago today, I took my wheezing two-year-old to the emergency room, and she stayed overnight at the hospital. She is fine now, and I’m not going to tell you the whole story here; this is just to say that our entire Holy Week and Easter were drastically impacted by the experience. I told you last week what I hoped to do in preparation for Easter … here’s what we actually did: Continue reading
On this day, the day many of us commemorate as the day Jesus died, I want to leave you with words much better than my own. They have been instrumental in increasing my love and knowledge of God since I first heard them read by a friend on Holy Saturday about 12 years ago.
From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday
The Lord descends into hell
Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
-Author unknown. Translation found on DivineOffice.org at this link: http://divineoffice.org/lent-hw-sat-or/. Friday, March 25.
And here’s a song, Thief by Third Day, that’s so very good at getting across the tenor of the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDw_9vvLcWg.
As a short closing, I’ll only add that I think knowing and loving God and neighbor is the beginning and end of faith and purpose. I’ve been thinking this as I read John’s gospel this month. So I was much encouraged – knowing John the Apostle agrees – reading Jesus’ words just this morning: “O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 25-26).
May we all come to know and love our Lord and each other more and more,
I have really fond memories of doing Triduum as a member of the choir at my old parish. Before I was married and had kids, I would be at church for choir practice Wednesday and then for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter morning. It was kind of exhausting, but I loved it! It was so easy to get immersed in the liturgy and really prepare for Easter.
As a mom, it’s a little different. Pete & I take turns with Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and considering the nursing baby’s bedtime is the same time as Holy Thursday, I might not make it to either one this year. Someday we’ll do Easter Vigil again, but the aforementioned bedtime makes it impossible for now. That’s OK though – I’m pretty peaceful about it. But I spent some time this morning while washing dishes thinking about what my girls and I can do for Holy Week, and I thought I would share some of my ideas with y’all here … Continue reading
Since pregnancy, which roughly lined up with turning 30, it seems that the AGE part of the phrase “as we age” has applied more and more pervasively in life. Until a couple of years back, I’ve been able to plausibly deny that I am part of the “WE” in that phrase. “AS”, a measurement of time progressing, of COURSE never happened to me, since I am perpetually 19 years old.
But my doctor, and my friend Marilyn, and an eerie number of other folks have, lately, regularly diagnosed me with: “as we age” syndrome. Continue reading
I didn’t give up chocolate for Lent. I didn’t truly “give up” anything, in fact. And I’m OK with that – I think the focus I chose for this Lent has been a good and fruitful one. But I chatted with some friends about fasting recently, and now I’m thinking hard about chocolate.
I eat chocolate every single day. Currently, I have a large bag of Dove dark chocolates on my pantry shelf, where I can reach in and grab one or two or three for my early-afternoon, kids-are-napping treat. I love Dove dark chocolate, but you know what? It’s not that much fun anymore. I’ve had it every day for so long, it just doesn’t do a whole lot for me anymore.
When we talked about fasting, one of my friends commented on the abundance that we live in, and stated, “I can indulge myself all the time.” Another friend pointed out that it’s hard to really feast if you never fast. Both of these thoughts ran through my mind today as I unwrapped my chocolate. There I was indulging myself again, feasting just because I could – and because, as I always tell myself, I deserve it.
There’s always some reason that I deserve a piece (or two or three) of chocolate; today it was taking a sick kid to the doctor. But seriously – what does it even mean to “deserve” a piece of chocolate? Honestly, I’m not even going to explore it, because I think it’s false – or maybe not false, but pointless. Not helpful.*
Because chocolate doesn’t bring me happiness. When I think about the things that make me happy these days – the things that make my life brighter – chocolate really doesn’t belong on that list. What is on that list? Substantial visits with friends. Cuddling with, reading to, or tickling my daughters. Going out on dates with my husband. But the chocolate … not so much.
So maybe it’s time to move my bag of chocolate to some hard-to-reach place, and leave it for sometime when I can share it with someone. Maybe I should cut down on the Yuengling and Guinness too …or maybe I’ll save that for next Lent 😉
*No judgement here. Are you currently in a phase of truly enjoying a daily piece of chocolate? Does it bring a little joy to your day? GO FOR IT! That’s just not where I’m at right now.
As we work to get out the door on the way to a friend’s house, the toddler trips for the twentieth time this morning and face-plants into the front door. I pick her up for a hug, wipe her runny nose, and make a halfhearted effort at soothing her, but mostly I want her to stop crying so we can leave. After she wails for a few minutes, my patience is gone and my irritation is on display for all three of my kids. We continue our journey and she finally stops crying when we arrive at our friends’ house. Inside my head I grumble at this everlasting drama queen of a child. When is she going to grow out of this? Comfort the sorrowful.
Inspired by the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy, I’ve been trying to focus this Lent on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Kendra at the Catholic All Year blog did a great post awhile back about living the works of mercy in the home – that was another inspiration for me – and she also has some great printables if you want a pretty list of the works of mercy to hang up in your house. Currently, I just have them written out on one of my preschooler’s drawings and tacked up on the fridge where I can see them frequently … I really need frequent reminders.
I woke up at six with the baby and worked on getting her “all nursed up” as we say around here. By the time she settled down, I was super hungry myself, but just as I was about to make my breakfast she needed to nurse again. Oh my gosh, why couldn’t she wait fifteen more minutes? Later that morning, after I got my older two girls dressed & ready for church, I finally went to get myself ready … but the baby woke up and wanted to nurse again. Oh my gosh, this is so obnoxious! Feed the hungry.
I used to work at a homeless shelter, and I often desire, keenly, to be back in that world in some way. I often wish I could do some volunteer work with my kids, but so far it hasn’t worked out for us. The reality of nap schedules, nursing babies, and unruly toddlers just doesn’t make it feasible. But over the past few years – over and over and over again – the Lord has shown me that I have quite a bit of work to do right in my own living room.
At the end of a long day with the kids, I’ve gotten stuck in some kind of frustration loop with one of them. She does something naughty, I attempt to correct her gently, she responds with defiance and disrespect, and “gently” goes out the window. I send her to the basement to play so we can both cool off – but only after I’ve already raised my voice at her several times. Bear wrongs patiently.
It’s a work in progress. Some days it doesn’t even seem like “in progress,” it’s just “work.” Ha! I am slow to improve, but at the very least, thinking about the works of mercy has helped me to see more clearly how often I fail … in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.
So, pray for me, to the Lord our God. I’ll pray for you too.
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
- Admonish the sinner
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Comfort the sorrowful
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive all injuries
- Pray for the living and the dead