by Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
This week is Holy Week, a time the Church gives us to pause for a while from our ordinary daily activities and retrace the origins of our faith journey. In so doing, we recharge our life batteries in preparation for the challenges to come.
I have spent Holy Week in many different ways. One year our family and four other families retreated to a small remote island off the coast of Quezon Province where we explored nature, had bonfires at night on the beach, watched the stars and the moon serenade each other, oohed and aahed at the phosphorescence lighting up the dark sea, and bonded with each other. The children laid out a creative Way of the Cross going from coconut tree to coconut tree. We sang songs in the dawning mornings and explored rustic paths during the lazy afternoons.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night on Easter eve and hearing heavenly music from across the sea. It seemed as if the angels themselves were singing hymns around the throne of God, and I felt like I could just reach out and touch a corner of eternity. I later learned that it was only a choir singing the midnight vigil in a church on the mainland! But to me, that night, heaven became real!
One Holy Thursday Jun and I hosted a Lord’s Day ritual and dinner at home for a group of lay workers in our parish. We followed the Jewish traditional ceremony and dinner, complete with roast lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and red wine. It was a truly memorable experience.
Most of the years, though, Jun and I have stayed at home, and used the quiet of these days to de-stress, to catch up on our reading and writing and sleeping, to lengthen our prayer times, and grow closer to each other and to God.
This is a time of year when I reflect on the many instances where I have journeyed together with my Savior and walked in His footsteps. I thank Him for the times that He has carried me across the difficult periods in my life and held me close when sorrows or troubles have burdened me.
In my meditation I relive the many times He has left His fingerprints on the colorful canvas of my life, when He has guided me through the dark valleys, when He has held my hand in friendship, when we have drawn pictures of joy and hope in the sand together.
To me Holy Week is a treasured time every year to retrace the journey He chose to take, from heaven to earth, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, so that I, and all Christians, would have the hope of heaven to nourish and strengthen our hearts. It is a time to remember and accept that without the Good Fridays in our lives, we would not be able to fully celebrate and enjoy the Easter Sundays.
My prayer for this week is for all of us: may our Good Fridays be few and our Easter Sundays be many and glorious!