The Benedictine Sisters wish all of you a blessed and peaceful Easter! May the Risen Savior inject hope in each of your hearts as we continue to live in these unsettling times.
In the midst of the pandemic, and all the struggle and pain that the past year brought us, the word celebrate might not seem appropriate. And yet our heart informs us that the feast of the Lord’s Resurrection trumps this virus, it brings light and hope to the most desperate situations and thus celebrate we must! Light always overcomes the darkness! And so, we prepare to celebrate the feast that brought us salvation.
Many things in our life have changed as of late and we wait patiently and not so patiently for our normal life to return, but if the wisdom of the masses is even a little bit true, there is no such thing as returning to normal. We will have to learn to adjust to a new normal. And there it is, the experience of the Resurrection by those who came to the grave early in the morning. Something had changed. They were not expecting this reality. What was happening? How would they move forward from this? They too had to adjust to a new normal. This new space they found themselves in, this new life without the physical Jesus, but with Jesus nonetheless was unbelievable, serial, and perplexing. In the rare moments when they did see him, his appearance had changed. They didn’t recognize him. Everything was different now. It took them awhile to grasp the truth of it. The Jesus who they had learned to love and trust, the friend who had walked with them in their struggle and in their joys, who taught them about God, who instructed them to witness light and love toward their enemies and their friends was still with them. They couldn’t see him, but their hearts felt him; yes, his presence was with them. How was that possible? They were grieving his loss but rejoicing at the same time by this newfound experience of holy presence. Jesus continued being in their lives and Jesus is in our lives, he walks with us now in this time of struggle. Jesus’ light and love continues to give us hope and consolation. The feast of Easter reminds us of that and thus we must find ways to acknowledge the Jesus who rose from the dead to give us new life and new hope. Both are needed badly these days.
We are fortunate, as the early disciples were, to spot Jesus now and again. Today we spot Jesus in all those who bring hope and love to those who struggle and those who are dying. We hold our spiritual hands together. We will triumph because we know that nothing is impossible for God. God’s light and our light are intersecting, and this light illuminates the darkness of our present situation. United we are HOPE, COURAGE, COMPASSION, LOVE AND MERCY for our broken and hurting world. Our service hands become God’s hands, our voice becomes God’s voice as we gently comfort and help to heal.
We know that this Easter celebration will again be different because of the continued fight against the virus. We know that there will be fewer participants standing in the dark waiting for the Paschal Candle to pierce the darkness. There will be fewer people, standing for the Exulted and hear Jesus triumph over death, there will be many who will not be present to listen to our salvation stories. There will be fewer present to experience the baptism of the catechumens and the renewal of our own baptismal promises. But we must find ways to ritualize this moment. Yes, we can follow the liturgy online, but we must also find ways to make this real for ourselves. Our memory of this moment is important. Daniel Groody, in writing about the Resurrection, uses a rather strong metaphor to describe the impact of the empty tomb on those who came early in the morning to the grave. I believe it can be used for this time as well. I want to use it to emphasize that we will celebrate, we must celebrate this powerful ritual in whatever ways possible. We will not let circumstances alter our faith, our belief and our celebration of the truth of what Christ did for us. Groody says, “In this Easter Vigil we celebrate the way God in Jesus goes ‘thermo-nuclear’ on any evil that holds us in bondage to fear.” This is the passion that must drive us this Easter. We will show the world the healing grace of the God who became one of us to lift us from darkness to light, from death to life.