The mortician in our small town has seen a lot of things.
During Lent this year there have been a “larger than average” number of deaths in our Catholic community, he says. But to us, it’s not a number. It’s a lot of mourning.
Yet, the great promise of our faith is that these deaths are not the end. After a excruciating Passion and death, Jesus rose again on Easter. And Jesus promised us that death would no longer have the sting it once had–because it is not the end.
Those who have faith have the promise of everlasting life! It is a glorious promise. It gives us hope. This promise helps us dry away the tears. It reassures us that we can endure being physically separated from our loved ones because they still have life—in another form.
Yet, beyond this amazing promise, there is also the story of the Greatest Love. Easter is more touching and more promising because of what went before it. God the Son, left behind the power and glory of heaven to come into a human existence. And He didn’t even assume a comfortable position of power while He walked on the earth. Instead He walked with the poor, the lowly and then sinners. Then He suffered and died on their behalf and for us as well.
On Good Friday, my children and I try to put ourselves into a deeper awareness of this great mystery by going on a 14 mile pilgrimage walk. At each mile marker, one of the Stations of the Cross is read. We pray the rosary, say Divine Mercy and sing songs.
The experience of gaining blisters and sunburn, of listening to growling stomachs and feeling totally wiped out, helps us understand a little bit about the road to Calvary. We carry with us the memories of those who have died and the suffering of their loved ones. It helps us unite all suffering with the Cross.
We know of Protestants who cringe at the sight of a crucifix and who want to focus exclusively on the resurrected Christ. They say “the suffering is over.” But we know from life experience, that suffering continues every day in many ways. The only way to cope with suffering is to know that Jesus walks with us. He helps carry the load.
The crucifix makes Easter sweeter. The pain of the cross and the joy of the resurrection are inseparable in our faith. When Easter comes, it is all the more wonderful because it is a gift of the Greatest Love. And our pain is now made easier when it is united with the pain Jesus suffered.
Life starts over.
Lent has been about starting over. We put on the new self. We start over to walk with Jesus. Life is a journey. And we are on the road to our heavenly Home.
God bless you all. May this Easter be sweetened with the realization of the Promise.
–Judith Costello. Judith is the mother of two kids. She and her family live on a small farm they call “Sagging Acres” in rural New Mexico. Judith writes for national and regional magazines. She is a catechist, artist and a Secular Carmelite