2012 Lenten Reflections


This year I have been very conscious because of the calendar synchronicity of the parallels between our Easter celebration and the celebration of Passover. In our family we always had the tradition of preparing the foods for Easter, packing them in a beautifully decorated basket, and taking them to the nearby Church for a special blessing on Holy Saturday afternoon. I understand that this tradition was common in many of the Slavic and Eastern European countries. As I looked at the foods in the basket, I saw how many of them were also part of the Seder meal being celebrated by our Jewish friends.

There is the salt that represented the tears.  There is the bitter herb of horseradish that represented the life of slavery in Egypt. There is the hard-boiled egg representing the new life the Israelites were to know as they left Egypt and bondage. There is the matzoh or unleavened bread representing the haste with which the Jewish people fled from Egypt. There is the meat, often lamb, which strengthened the Israelites for the journey and represented the sacrificial lamb.

This year, my great-nieces and great-nephew will be departing from the age-old tradition of preparing the basket. Instead, they will write their own blessing prayer based on what each of these foods prepared for Easter mean to our particular family. I am keenly curious to see what they will create as a blessing for our Easter food.

At the convent, Holy Saturday is an oddly curious day. The tabernacle in the Chapel is empty. There is no sanctuary lamp. The emptiness and silence in the Chapel is an awesome reminder of the emptiness of the tomb. Jesus, according to tradition, is no longer in the tomb but has descended into hell to free our ancestors fromb death and bring them into eternal life. That would mean the freeing of the prophets, of Moses, of David, of Adam and Eve. The gates of the netherworld are opened and all who had previously died but were manifestly good can now enter Paradise.

As we decorate the Chapel for the Easter feast, It becomes the symbol of that Paradise as the altar is adorned with a white altar cloth trimmed in gold, the Easter lilies, azaleas, daffodils, hyacinths and hydrangeas fill the Chapel with beautiful colors and scents. The statue of the Resurrection is brought into the Chapel and surrounded by flowers. Paradise becomes real as we fill the Chapel with the signs of Spring and new life.

We observe a relative silence throughout the day to encourage meditation on what all is silently transpiring “behind the scenes”, so to speak. What Jesus accomplishes in silence and secret will be made manifest in the glorious sounds of the Easter chants and hymns and the ringing of the bells once more. While there is hustle and bustle as we prepare for the Easter celebration, there is also the meditative spirit which reminds us that this Triduum we have been celebrating is the most solemn holiday of the Christian year. Culminating in the Easter Vigil Mass and the Easter celebration, these days are the epitome of our faith. We pray for those being admitted to the Church on this Easter Eve. We remember our own commitment to the Faith as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises.

May the blessings of the Risen Christ be with you. May you enjoy this festival of life and light with all those you love. And may we one day realize the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus at his last supper with his disciples. May we one day be fully united in communion, not only with our Christian friends, but with our Jewish brothers and sisters, the Muslims with whom we share our father Abraham, and all children of the Holy One by whatever name they call the Divine throughout the world.



The Ignatian method of meditation is one that always comes to mind for me on Good Friday.  There are four Gospel accounts of the Passion, and the reading used for Good Friday is always taken from the Gospel of St. John.  To meditate on this Gospel in the Ignatian method, one would follow these steps:

  • Read the full account of the Gospel slowly, letting your imagination take in the scene as completely as possible.  If time permits, do a second slow reading so that you can fully absorb what is being recounted.
  • Picture yourself either as one of the characters in the reading or as a bystander observing what is happening.  Here is where I like to bring in journaling.  Instead of just imagining myself in the scene (composition of place), I picture myself there engaging in conversation with the character I chose.  Talk about what is going on, your reaction to the situation, the feelings that are rising up in you.  Instead of creating the conversation in your head, really picture the scene with you and the character there talking from heart to heart about what is taking place.
  • If you are moved to do so, sit silently experiencing the scene as if it were a movie going by the screen of your mind.  Do not create the movie, just let it unfold in your mind’s eye.  Then sit silently with your emotions and experience the love, anger, sorrow – whatever has come up in you.  Let what is happening in your imagination speak to you, and let your heart learn the listen the scene holds for you.
  • The next step is the colloquy.  Speak to Jesus or God as you picture God and pour out the emotions of your heart.  Express your gratitude or sorrow or anger or dismay or whatever in a pray directed to God.
  • The final step is to make a resolution for the day based on your experience.  Maybe you will act differently toward someone.  Maybe you feel moved to visit someone or write to someone to offer forgiveness or gratitude.  Maybe there is a thought that you want to carry with you throughout the day to help you to stay with your reflection.  Whatever you are moved to do as a result of the meditation becomes your resolution.  Some action should flow from your prayer.

May this Good Friday exercise help you not only today but in the many days ahead.  It has actually been suggested that this type of quiet reflection is good for your body as well as your soul.  Those who practice daily meditation experience many less health problems that are due to stress.  This type of meditation is calming, but it also helps you to make a deeper spiritual connection with the Divine as you perceive God to be.  Have a very Good Friday.