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Allison Gingras Easter Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year

The Triduum for the Win

The Triduum for the Win

Easter circa 1977 consisted of a new floral print dress, a cute hat, and lots of candy.  I have vague recollections of frozen fish sticks on Fridays and at least one failed attempts to give up candy for Lent, and the rice bowls collection boxes we brought home, constructed, but never filled.  Super holy, huh! Mom and Dad were not exactly church folk, a real shame, as they missed some glorious opportunities to experience real joy.

While our Easter celebrations get lost in menus, egg hunts, and new floral dresses, our Triduum celebration belongs all to Jesus.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and even Holy Saturday, we surrender those days to the traditions of our Catholic faith. The activities of these days have evolved over the years, especially as our children age, but the heart and intent remain focused on growing in holiness and hope.

Holy Thursday kicks off the Triduum fun with the evening Mass. My daughter loves Mass at night, with the darkened stained glass windows portraying the darkness of the days we are about to experience.  Twice, our family has been invited to participate in the “Washing of the Feet” ceremony. Sitting before the peering eyes of the parishioners can be horrifying and humbling, but when you realize what you are being asked to reenact, the horror dissipates, replaced by honor and awe.

Our parish also participates that night in a beautiful tradition of visiting seven churches (no one seems to know why we visit seven). At one time that was easy, living next to a rural city with several churches.  Over the years, as the Church crisis continues, there are fewer and fewer to visit. We can still achieve the seven visits in two hours, but it feels as if the day when we will be lucky to get in 4 or 5 is around the corner.  I guess that will be my prayer intention this year as we adore Jesus in the Eucharist, from church to beautiful church.

Good Friday, we fast. True confession time. In my early re-version days, I would sleep in the afternoon, tired from the fast, looking to find an easy way to pass the time.  It was not until I read Scripture that I realized the significance of the slumber:  “Could you not stay awake one hour?” Now, I head to my parish for three hours of prayer and solitude…well, until the teens arrive to practice the live Passion Play.

In the evening, my family returns to our parish for Good Friday services.  In the past few years, our pastor blessed us with the opportunity to venerate a relic of the “True Cross”—affixed to the large wooden cross presented at the altar during the services. The relic’s authenticity was said to be proven by a miracle of a deaf person hearing once again.  For years, my family has each watched, hopeful and curiously, as my daughter, Faith, who is deaf, approached and kissed the relic.  Inevitably, one of us would lean in and whisper into her ear to see if Faith had received miraculous healing.

This year our pastor and his glorious relic have moved on. Our faith is strong enough, however, to realize if God willed her to hear, with or without the glass-encased sliver of wood, she would.

Holy Saturday is a bit more challenging to keep since it is the awkward day of waiting. The tomb is empty, but we are not yet ready to celebrate it.  We have preparations to make for the following day’s meal and company but we want to remain mindful of all we have seen and heard in the last two days.  

Was that how the women felt preparing for the Sabbath after Jesus’ crucifixion? They had so many details for the day to attend to, yet each was mourning, probably exhausted from the previous day’s events and emotions.  They worked, waiting until they could visit Jesus in the tomb, surrounded by an odd silence and uncertainty.

Before we burst forth with Alleluias and the Gloria, the Triduum holds treasures of its own. We cannot fully appreciate Easter without the garden, His Passion, the Cross, and even the waiting.

 

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Easter Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Lent Liturgical Year

The Final Days of Lent: Questions to Facilitate Lenten Reflection

Lenten reflectionToday is the 5th Friday of Lent and in just two days we’ll be celebrating Palm Sunday and ushering in Holy Week. Can you believe we’re already at the end of Lent? I feel like it has gone by really quickly this time around. But I’m glad I caught that we were near the end before we actually got to the end.

With just a few days left, I think it’s a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned this Lent before entering into the Sacred Triduum. It’s the best time to reflect on how I fulfilled (or not fulfilled) my Lenten promises and ask myself, “Did I take on too much or not enough and did this Lent truly prepared me for the upcoming Easter season?”

I’d like to invite you to reflect on your own Lent as well. I came up with a list of questions for myself, and I hope to spend some time reflecting on each of these this weekend. I hope these questions can help all of us to reflect more deeply on our Lenten experiences.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

On days when I broke my Lenten promises, was it due to forgetfulness, laziness, or weakness?

If forgetfulness, how can I help myself in the future to better remember my promised sacrifices each day?

If laziness, I should take some serious time to reflect on the root causes of my laziness. Is it due to ignorance or selfishness? Maybe it’s the result of bad habits that go back years (laziness begets laziness). Reflect on the crucifix and the wounds of Christ and pray for inspiration to help forge ahead and out of this state.

If weakness, is it because I took on too much for Lent? Lent should be hard, in a challenging way, not an impossible way. Or is it due to a lack of spiritual maturity?


Did I grow closer to Jesus Christ this Lent?

What have I done to grow my relationship with my Lord?

What could I have done better to deepen that relationship?

How might I do things differently in the future to help that relationship deepen?


D
id Lent adequately prepare my heart with a sense of anticipation for the upcoming Easter celebration?

Although I know the ultimate outcome of the Crucifixion is the Resurrection (something the Apostles did not know would happen), do I have a sense of the hopelessness and fear the Apostles had when Jesus was arrested and subsequently crucified?

Did my sacrifices this Lent draw me to a point where the celebration of Easter will be truly joyous and filled with the same kind of wonderment that the Apostles must have experienced when they discovered the empty tomb?

 

What have I learned about my faith, myself, and suffering over this Lent?

Is my faith life stronger?

Have I progressed in my spiritual life since Ash Wednesday?

Do I have a greater appreciation for suffering and the benefits suffering can bear?


What lessons from Lent do I plan to carry forward into the Easter season and beyond?

I hope you will join me this weekend in reflecting on your Lenten experiences, whether you use my questions or come up with your own. This is a perfect time to do this as we make our final preparations for Holy Week and Easter.

Are there questions you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to see them!

I wish all our dear readers a beautiful Holy Week and a joyous Easter celebration!!

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Conversion Devin Rose Evangelization Guest Posts Perspective from the Head Pope

The Church Lumbers On

The Church’s umpteenth Lent–and my twelfth one–is drawing to a close. The Triduum, followed by the blessedly long season of Easter, approaches. The Church lumbers on.

We said “be seeing you,” to Pope Emeritus Benedict and welcomed, with surprise, Pope Francis. All the media stories, gossip, and conspiracy theories came to naught, and as the spotlight fades from our Catholic Church we are left with two gentle, wise successors of St. Peter. Benedict is beginning to enjoy a long-deserved rest. Pope Francis is facing the daunting task of balancing the world as the servant of the servants of God. But the Holy Spirit is with him, and the Church lumbers on.

The renewal of the liturgy and of sacred music continue (slowly) apace. Many traditionalists in our Church are worried about Pope Francis, but I am not. I have already seen signs of better liturgies and more sacred music, and every young priest that I know reverently celebrates the Mass. And I give credit to the traditionalists for their diligence through all these years in exhorting us to greater fidelity in the liturgy.

Blessedly, thousands upon thousands of new converts are joining the Church in full communion. Their zeal and joy will energize us old-timers and draw many more people to Christ’s Church. Meanwhile, thousands of nominal and cultural Catholics will fall away. Most of the latter never received the truth of the Catholic Faith, and now they will have to walk winding paths through the wilderness before finding their way home again. Hopefully we will have the lanterns burning brightly for them so they can see the way to go, when they are ready. And still the Church lumbers on.

I no longer have any fears or doubts about the promises that Christ made to His Church. I don’t fear that Pope Francis will substantially change dogma. I don’t fear that the Church will go belly up, as so many have predicted would happen for so long. No, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. And thank God for it, because without that unmovable foundation, I don’t know where I’d be. I only need concern myself with being faithful to the people, duties, and vocation that God has given to me.

As Lent draws to a close, I lumber on, and to my great consolation, the Church lumbers on beside me.