The Call to Obedience in Holy Week

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Holy Week, friends!

I am so excited for Holy Week and Easter - I can't believe it's nearly here. Lent has flown by. Today is Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, and the people threw palms down in His path, crying "Hosanna, Hosanna!" Mass began with everyone filing outside silently with palms in their hands, and then Father said a beautiful prayer about how we have prepared for Christ's Resurection with four weeks of penance, almsgiving, and prayer....somehow, it doesn't feel like four weeks! It's hard to believe it's almost over, so I'm determined to enjoy and prayerfully celebrate this last week.

The first four weeks of Lent are devoted to our personal mortification (making sacrifices and carrying out works of penance), last week focused on Jesus's public life, and Holy Week celebrates His Passion - the last week of His life.

We are planning to spend Easter out of town, in Texas with my mom's family as we always do. So at some point we'll be on the road all day, but I'm looking forward to resting and spending quiet time with God this week.

The first three days following Palm Sunday are traditionally spent in vigorous spring-cleaning of the house for the greatest feast of the year. Tomorrow, I'll tidy my room, go through my closet and organize my clothes, adding to a bag already filled and waiting to be donated. I'm going to make a sacrifice and donate it to charity instead of bringing it to a clothes swap with my friends (we all bring unworn clothes and trade - everyone gets something cute!). That was my original intention before Lent, but why not donate some pretty clothes to charity? It shouldn't just be ugly, faded clothes that we give away. :) It will be good for my soul to do that...I can always use the extra penance! And of course, it's an excellent sacrifice to offer up, especially for Our Lady, who no doubt loved pretty things as well.

In his homily, Father talked about what we should focus on during this week, leading up to Good Friday, Our Lord's Passion. He said that the greatest sacrifice we can offer up and lay on the alter is obedience. To be truly obedient is to imitate Jesus, who said, "Father, let this cup pass from me, but not my will but Thine be done." Yet Jesus was obedient to His Father's Will, to the point of death. Father challenged us to be obedient this week, to whatever authority over us - for children, parents and teacher; for employees, their bosses; for wives, their husbands. He asked (with a smile) what we had given up -Chocolate? Why not offer the most difficult and pleasing thing? Our free will.

Don't you love it when Father says something that you know was Divinely inspired? What? You really want me to do it, God, so You nudge him to say it publicly? In church, where EVERYONE can hear?

I gave up chocolate, coffee, and listening to music for Lent and I made the commitment to attend Daily Mass on a regular basis again and spend more time in prayer. My mother, throughout Lent, had subtly (albeit repeatedly) pointed out that surely giving up being angry/losing my temper was more important than coffee or chocolate. I, resolved to give those up to celebrate the penitential aspect of the Lenten season anyway and secretly doubtful that I could "give up" something abstract, went ahead with my plans. Until I heard Father, that is. So it often is....God tries to tell us something (at least, this is how He does it to me - He's different with everyone, no doubt! :) ). We (I) go on our merry little way, pretending not to hear. Oh no, He doesn't want me to do that. Yes, I'm sure. Then He gets our attention through someone or something physical.

And then I cast a guilty, sheepish glance to Heaven. So this week, my observance of Holy Week is to be as obedient as possible. Especially when I don't want to. After all, if Jesus can obey God's Will by dying, can't I "die" to my wishes too? I am similar to Jo from Little Women, and I find it hard to curb my temper and tongue, so this is a good practice for me.

We plan on praying the Stations of the Cross with some friends tomorrow. On Tuesday, our church is praying the Divine Mercy chaplet which I plan on attending. Wednesday is probably when we'll leave; I hope to be at our grandparents for Holy Thursday, so we can have a Passover-like meal, and attend the Last Supper.

gyros or a roast - symbolizing the Lamb of God and the Passover Lamb

pita bread/tortillas - reminder of the Unleavened bread and the Eucharist

cranberry or grape juice - the wine that Jesus turns into His Precious Blood

mashed potatoes

Spinach, either cooked or as a salad - the bitter herbs symbolizing the bondage of slavery

A dessert - since this is not a penitential day according to the Church

On Good Friday, I'm going to make Hot Cross buns for breakfast. I probably won't make the icing to go with it, since it is a day of penance and I don't feel that would be appropriate, but I plan on making it to go with any leftovers on Easter Sunday.

I'm also going to watch the Passion of the Christ before (hopefully) going to church between 12-3, the three hours Christ hung on the cross. Yes, I know, I know...I think I'm the only person who hasn't seen that film yet, but my mother didn't allow me to see it the past few years because of the intensity. I begged to see it last Lent and I think she actually agreed, but I somehow forgot! Won't be happening this Good Friday. I'm fully prepared to be shocked, horrified, (I realize how harrowing the film is) and in desperate need of an entire box of tissues. Good Friday, obviously, is the perfect day to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Good Saturday will likely be spent in quiet resting, spiritual reading, and possibly Easter baking but we'll see. I'd really like to fill Easter baskets for the kids this year to be discovered upon our return from Mass (we usually do an Mexican egg hunt outside with the cascarones).

And then...Easter Sunday!! :)

The Gift of Today

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I know I promised Romeo and Juliet pictures as well as a full recap (it's coming!) but here's something that I was thinking about this morning...ah, the musing that waking up at 2 a.m. stirs.

It can be so easy to fall into despair. I know, because I have. Many times before. Often at the end of the day…you know, one of those flop-down-and-sigh-because-nothing-is-going-right-you-didn’t-get-any-school-done-your-chores-are-waiting-and-you’re-exhausted-but-still-have-20-things-to-do-before-bed…the kind of day that leaves you wondering ‘Where did it go?’

I think those emotions are especially magnified in larger families, specifically the variety with many younger siblings. It’s a given when you’re born into a large family (not to mention a taste of parenthood), can seem like a burden, and yet it’s a sweet, hidden blessing. Much like Lent.

I once heard a Catholic homeschooling mother speak at a Seton conference who said, “If the Devil’s not yanking your chain, you’re not doing something right.”

I must be doing quite a number of right things then. ;)

I agree with her. It’s often a during a special period in our lives that the Devil knows we’re growing closer to God, spending time with good friends who inspire us to goodness, or his least favorite thing, that we are content and happy with our lives. He appears in our ear, in the guise of common sense or the world and whispers to give up. To despair. It’s so easy. Simple. Allowed. Common. Everyone’s weak – everyone can give up, right?

What we often fail to realize is that he is thoroughly miserable and wretched, and wants us to share in his misery, much like an upset child who wants the world to fume too. If we can’t be happy, we want everyone else to feel our pain as well.

However, just as the Devil may be whispering to give up in one ear, our Guardian Angel is always at the other, ready to offer comforting words of strength.

With each dawn and cool, calm morning is an invitation. Just like laying out clean, pressed, fresh Sunday clothes the night before and rising to put them on, God lays out a new day and invites us to “take it on”.

"Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." (Matt. 6:34)

After all…everyday is a new, fresh day. Every day is a chance to start over. We were meant to live today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. So, today, I shall finish my school. I’ll sweep the kitchen merrily with a song in my heart and on my lips, I’ll dance my way outside in the sun, I’ll murmur the prayers of the Angelus, and I’ll live today.

After all, it’s my day. :)