We are about to enter into the darkest and most brilliant time of year for the Church — the Sacred Triduum. The beautiful liturgies on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigils call to mind our ever ancient but always new times when we can drill into the core beliefs of our faith, renew and strengthen them and begin again to participate in the death and life of our God. While those sound like lofty challenges, we must take each day as an original, a first day in our lives of faith and make it our own.
Since every day is different and a new opportunity, we should concentrate on our efforts rather than our successes and failures. It’s not about the end result but the kind of journey we take along the way; it’s always about the journey. If we know someone who will join the church at an Easter Vigil, we are blessed. Lighting the new fire, coming into a darkened church and seeing the glow from the many lights that break through that darkness give a visual reminder of what we have experienced along our Lenten roads.
Some of us tripped along the way, and we might have been forced to rethink our commitments to making this a fruitful Lent. If it wasn’t some kind of struggle, interior or exterior, why were we doing it? Most of us know by this time that life isn’t easy, and Lent should be no different if we are really “drilling down” into ourselves and our relationship with our God. Sometimes this Lenten reflection requires more than a fleeting thought about what I ought to do as opposed to what I have been doing. It might require a bit more time, some quiet and no electronics to distract us from our purpose. Ouch! No phone, no iPad, no — nothing? That may be my hardest task, going without electronics. And I thought a chocolate-less spring was difficult.
But spending time with our God produces great advantages, one of which is to give us direction. When we’re quiet, wherever we are, God will speak to us, perhaps in a whisper although sometimes God uses the “frying-pan” attention grabber for me. If I’m not hit over the head with God’s message, I might miss it. Whatever it takes, in this world where chaos seems to reign more than order, we might need to employ a strong attention getter.
We know that to have and keep good relationships, we must nourish them not ignore them. Participating in the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, watching the altar being stripped and prepared for our Good Friday services brings us to our knees, praying that our Easter hope will sustain us through the dark night until we light our Easter Candle to signify the dawn is breaking into whatever dark night we are experiencing. We know and we believe that our Easter morning will come no matter how bleak Good Friday appears. Happy Easter!