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Holy Week

door, doorway, Christ, mercy, Paschal mystery, salvation

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when I regret not having been harder on myself, when I’m disappointed that the season of subdued quiet and intense introspection is coming to an end. Like Winter, I enjoy Lent and always feel, as it ebbs inexorably away, that I didn’t do it justice.

All of the Winter’s snow has melted into my little spot of Earth to feed the new green growth of Spring. I miss the snow, but mostly because I’m afraid that we didn’t get enough of it, and the trees, grasses, and flowers will struggle from a lack of hydration. I’m afraid that my soul, too, will struggle from a lack of hydration, because my Lenten sacrifices were rather paltry. In the last week, a brief snow shower covered the ground with white, and I also made some last-minute attempts to purify my soul. Both were fleeting. But I needn’t worry. After the season of snow comes the season of rain, for Our Creator did not design life to be so neatly boxed. The whole of my life is filled with opportunities for quiet introspection, for self-giving sacrifice, for the renewal of my spirit and the purification of my soul. Purification, after all, is the work of God Himself, and I am completely in His hands.

What we will be commemorating this upcoming week is not about what I do — what I have done or will do in the future — it’s about what God does. Holy Week is about what God has done, is doing, and will do for each and every one of us because of who God is. God is love. God loves you and me infinitely and intimately, giving Himself totally and completely to us in love so that we may love Him too. In loving God truly, we are able to love ourselves, our neighbor, and all of God’s beautiful Creation in the fulfillment of real joy. This is the life that Christ offers us. Being a Christian means that I accept, that I strive to do and say everything that I do and say for the love of God. I give myself over to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I will, of course, mess up. I will fall short of the ideal, I will fail miserably in what I intend to do for love, and, most of the time, I will not even think about God. That’s what forgiveness is for. Not being God ourselves, but rather images of God, we are imperfect creatures. So, for us, love comes in and flows out through the door of forgiveness. God established that door by living among us in the flesh, and then opened that door through His passion, death, and resurrection. The Paschal Mystery is the portal of mercy, opened wide for every sinner — for each and every human being — but it can only be found by those who seek it. “Seek and you shall find,” Christ tells us. “Knock and the door shall be opened for you.”

Lent is the season of seeking, a 40 day long daily discipline to remember, not only how to knock, but also that we need that door of mercy. We begin the season with ashes on our foreheads and the reminder that our mortal lives are dust and to dust they shall return. We then undertake a serious examination of conscience to recognize and acknowledge the fact that we are sinners. Taking up little sacrifices, mortifications, further gets it through our thick heads that we are sinners, that we are a mess, that we are in need of divine assistance, which inspires us to look for mercy from God. In seeking we find, and divine love comes through. We put others ahead of ourselves through concentrated, widespread acts of charity, thereby practicing to make habitual how we are called to live every day. Acknowledging our failings, turning to God for assistance, and receiving His merciful love, we naturally love others as divine love flows through us.

This is the life of a Christian. It is not just for Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. It’s every day in every season. We will even experience resurrection joy in the midst of fasting because Winter doesn’t keep us from enjoying the beauty of the Earth. We will even experience somber quietude in the midst of an Easter celebration because reflection, conversion, and renewal are essential to living our human lives fully.

I’m looking forward to Holy Week this year with a newly deepened sense of who Christ is, what Christ does, and how much I need Him. In order to love fully, truly, practically, and eternally I need to walk through the door of mercy. That door is Christ. Through Him, love flows in living water and life blooms abundantly, without end.

© 2019 Christina Chase

Photo by Joaquín on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

6 thoughts on “Holy Week Leave a comment

  1. Finally opened this. I may have subconsciously put off reading. More likely I got lost among other readings and didnt keep track, or go back through my list. By the time I did, Lent, Holy Week, Easter–all had come and gone as if they hadnt happened.

    But perhaps I blocked things out.too.. Yes, I think I did, and have done that in the past –blocked out everything that relates to Lent –almost everything, except prayer. You see, Christina, I dont do the desert well. I cannot manage self-scrutiny, long periods of reflection, or images of the agony and death of God. I was frightened off in childhood. Too much darkness inside the church then, my local parish school as well; and in me, sadness and fear. I never really got over it.

    I understand and respect the idea of 40 days of fasting (the applied meaning especially). You have expressed eloquently the significance of that with respect to Christian teaching. I do believe in resurrection, even The Resurrection in its theological meaning– which is not the same as simple resuscitation– but the related church rituals are lost on me. My loss. So I focus on God incarnate, “everywhere present, filling all things,” as one favorite prayer has it.

    I could have just said the 2nd sentence of my 2nd paragraph, and left the rest out. But I like for you to know that your posts stir specific memories, emotions, or thoughts–as all good writing does.


    • My heart goes out to you, little Albert. Is that okay?

      I hope you don’t mind that I’m glad that God has given me these thoughts to share, and that the sharing of them stirs memories, emotions, and thoughts within you that you then share as well. The fullness of reality is what I love, the fullness of a human life is what’s beautiful to me — the sunlight and shadows, the deserts and rain forests, the pleasure and the pain — even though I sometimes feel myself go cold with the fear of what can happen in a life, in my life, at any moment, when all that I hold as lovely could slip away and I’d be left to live without my loved ones in a wilderness that’s called a nursing home. That’s the desert to which I do not like to travel in thought. And the reality that one of my beloved family members will one day suffer great sickness, as is probable for us all. Sometimes, life is unbearable.

      I’m sorry that you experienced darkness in a time and place where there should have been tremulous and radiant light. It seems to me that you, Al, have been to the desert — have been through the desert — and do not wish to return. Why would you? God knows. Christ went once and didn’t go back until soldiers dragged Him. On the eve of the Ascension, what a good reminder that you give that God is not only to be found in the desert or on the Cross. God is “everywhere present, filling all things.” Thank you. Blessings to you,
      Pax Christi

      Liked by 1 person

  2. More than okay. Way more. Inspiring, encouraging, cimforting, companionable words–from the heart

    (but since it went out out, I hope it’s back now –whence it can go out again, and yet again, to those who are blessed to meet you)


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