Easter lilies, tulips, aromatic incense and the warm glow of candles filled the sanctuary. The altar was dressed in the full splendor of tapestries. As well, Our Lady of Fatima stood in a place of honor veiled in glorious white. My favorite saintly statues returned to greet me and the pews were filled with brothers and sisters donning their best attire. Servers surrounded the altar and Father stood clothed in a royal white and gold chasuble. Like heaven had leaned down and kissed the earth, this morning’s Easter Mass proclaimed the Resurrection.
Waiting and walking through the Church’s Triduum celebrations led me to a deeper appreciation of the joy experienced on Easter. Truly, it is after tasting the bitter cup of trials and sorrow that we learn to savor the sweetness of victory. How often I have taken for granted so many little gifts, little consolations, little comforts, but after reclining at the Lord’s Supper and kneeling beside Him on Holy Thursday, I am renewed in recognizing the value of every reception of the Eucharist, the benefit of serving rather than being served and the honor in saying, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
My sin of vanity can lead me to discredit the blessing of life’s marks on the body, but witnessing the torture and disfigurement of Jesus on Good Friday taught me to see the dignity of our fragile humanness. His pierced hands, feet and side, His torn flesh and punctured scalp marked the human side of His nature which He chose to take on. His total self-sacrifice transformed ugliness into beauty. So, too the gray hairs, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars and handicaps can memorialize our self-giving, our willing surrender to bear witness to the capacity of suffering.
The silence of Holy Saturday invited me to be still and reflective, to ponder His descent into hell. How eager and grateful must have been the righteous ones, who’d been waiting for this prophesied Savior to take them up with Him into glory. Still today, our brothers and sisters in purgatory await their rising and Holy Saturday reminds us that they ask for our intercessory prayers. We can be participants in their sanctification. Too many times we grow impatient waiting on God’s timing. We forget that His promises are reliable, but that we may be required to await their fulfillment. Holy Saturday depicts this required time of silence, of pausing. It inspires us to trust with abandon, not to force or attempt to cajole circumstances to fit our flawed ideals.
So, after the long season of Lent, after the difficult pilgrimage through Holy Week, Easter is the triumphant crown of Salvation glory. Fitting it is then that the brick and mortar church and the members of the Body of Christ should be an image of this splendor. The crown we did not earn. We did not merit such glory, but Jesus Christ, our King, invites to be sharers in His eternal victory.
For He is Risen, so let us glorify Him today, tomorrow and every day so that one day we may experience the everlasting Easter.
|Happy Easter from Brelinskyville|