My memories of Easter Sundays are many. In the states as I was growing up, special morning church services with all of us children receiving a pot of spring flowers signifying new life, that we were to nourish and grow into fully blooming bushes. Sunday afternoon rides with Dad and Mom around the Vermont countryside looking for areas where spring greening was happening, and all too often seeing patches of persistent snow hugging the ground beneath trees and hedge rows. Coloring blown egg shells for the Easter Egg Hunt at a local center for handicapped children.
Here in the Philippines Holy Week is a time for slowing down one’s pace of life, given either to deep reflections on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and celebration of his Resurrection, or to taking a vacation away from one’s regular daily activities and trekking off to see different places and tourist sites. Easter begins with the Easter Vigil in the darkness of night, greets the dawn with the traditional Salubong, and echoes to the gloriousness of the sung Alleluias throughout the day in all churches.
Jun and I usually spend Holy Week quietly at home, attending our parish services, catching up on our readings and prayer life. It is a good time for us to take stock of the many blessings that God has showered us with. And to look for the meaning in the difficulties we have and are experiencing in our lives … as well as in the alarming things happening in the world around us.
As our souls undergo this Lenten and Easter process of reflection and renewal, we remember that because of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, there is hope for the future. That because of the way we deal with life’s challenges, we help shape our future. That because we have experienced difficult times, we treasure the good times even more. That because we have been blessed with encouraging and inspiring friends, we will strive to share this encouragement and be an inspiration to others.
I am reminded of these lines penned by Sister Mary Gemma Brunke, entitled “Because”. She writes: “Because I have received kindness, I have been spurred on to be kind. Because I have caught the smile on another’s lips, I have found myself smiling. Because I have known the joy of receiving, I rejoice in giving. Because I have felt pain, I know what pity is. Because I have tasted humiliations, I know what consideration is. Because I have seen Christ suffer, I have had the courage to go on.”
Pope Benedict XVI stated in his Palm Sunday homily, “Love, in fact, means leaving yourself behind, … (and) looking ahead, toward the other — toward God and the people whom he sends to me. It is this principle of love that defines man’s journey, it is once again identical with the mystery of the cross, with the mystery of death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ.”
He emphasized that this “Yes” to the Lord must be repeated every day, especially when “we just want to hang on to that ‘I.'” He added, “There is no successful life without sacrifice.”
Thus, I could add to Brunke’s lines: Because Jesus loved and died for us, for me, and was resurrected in joyous love, because I have experienced what it is to be loved, I can reach out to others in love.
A most Happy, Blessed and Joyous Easter to you all … just because …
Nancy Catan, BCBP Manila