Good Friday 2016: On Mercy

This year has been more of a rough and tumble into the Triduum than most years, though I suspect that the years to come will be similar in style. As I write this, we are in the three hours of agony and are, as Christians and Catholics, encouraged to take some time to meditate and reflect on this time that Jesus was on the cross.  My cell phone is off, my babies are resting, and I am writing because it is my best method of focus.

It’s easy for me to think of Mercy and how I need to have it for others; how we need to have it for the world and for our opponents and enemies.  But today I have been contemplating my biggest opponent in need of Mercy: myself.

“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

This meditative prayer comes from The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, and today marks the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena. It is strong on my heart these days, and can be said as part of the rosary-based prayer or on its own.  It is repeated 50 times throughout the chaplet, “emphasized in this way as it reminds us over and over again of our reliance on the saving action of Jesus. We cling to God’s mercy not because of our own actions but because Jesus acts on our behalf. In repeating these words we learn to trust Jesus more deeply.” (reference)

My everyday actions illustrate a complete lack of trust in Jesus. I am distracted by my work, by my family, by my own thoughts and fears and insecurities.  And I worry, as much as I tell myself not to worry, but I do.  As much as I want to be a Mary, I’m a total Martha.  I’m a Martha who wants to love people and serve them but finds herself too busy and in nonstop motion to stop and look around.  I’m a Martha who lets insecurities hijack her abilities and lets fear dominate her good intentions.  I’m a Martha who loves, a lot and without end, but hides when worried or scared or nervous or prideful.  I have failed many a friend and sister.  I have hurt and let down people that I love, dearly, and pushed them away.  I have let others opinions of me, even if they’re just in my head, dominate my thoughts and paralyze my nature.  I hide, a lot. I am prideful and insecure and greedy and forgetful and selfish and materialistic and I take people I love for granted. I am sensitive, yet callous in reaction to my fears.

Yet, somehow, I have Grace.  I have a life that is full of blessings and every day I am given a glimpse of heaven with the love I have surrounding me.  And on today, this most beautiful and sorrowful of days, I am humbled.  Any good in me is by and from Christ.  Anything lacking is because I need Christ.  Today, we mourn for the sorrow and sufferings of a man who so dearly loved us that he was prepared to die for us, for me. I mourn my own humanity that murdered this man, this innocent.

As someone who avoids the daily news and details of tragedy, I can fully understand how some fellow Christians don’t like to focus on the crucifixion. I’ve had dear friends wonder why we would put so much effort and contemplation into the sin and sadness, when from it Christ made all things new. As my son told me this week (and yes, I wept), “Jesus opened the gates of Heaven, Mommy!” But to me, they go hand in hand. To fully appreciate the beauty of the resurrection and to fully value life, we must grieve death and face our part in it. It only makes this Sunday morning more joyful, more beautiful, and more meaningful.

I accept my shortcomings, but I commit to a lifetime of battling them and finding the good in what the world sees as weak or silly. I commit to a lifetime of fighting the fear I have about others’ opinions of me, and to instead turn my gaze to those who don’t have anyone to think of them. I commit to a lifetime of trying to live and love in a way that honors the life that was given for me.  And I am thankful for the daily opportunity for such awesome Grace, and the unconditional love and forgiveness that comes with it.

“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”




Good Friday 2015: On Mary

Year-to-year, on Good Friday, I am humbled by the love God has for us to sacrifice his son. On Holy Thursday, I weep at the loneliness and pain that Christ must have felt in that moment, when his disciples couldn’t stay awake with him and he knew the cup couldn’t and wouldn’t pass from him. I am sorrowful, thankful, and awestruck by this.

This year surprised me and has me reflecting not only on Jesus, but also on his mother.   Last night at church, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t help but to reflect on the faith and suffering of this woman. I can’t comprehend the pain she experienced. Regardless of your stance on Mary, I imagine that any parent and any person who cares for and loves someone can relate to the nature of this woman’s love for her son.

I look at my babies, my two perfect little gifts from God, and I imagine being a witness to the world’s scorn and condemnation of either of them.   If Christians think that a poor virgin carrying a child that she couldn’t explain was brave, imagine that child that you love and have poured your heart and soul into being tried and crucified as a criminal.   And she didn’t know why it was happening, except that it had to happen.

I don’t worship Mary, contrary to beliefs of some outside of Catholicism. I don’t hold her higher than or equal to Christ, as misconception leads some to think.   But she is an integral part of his life, of this story. Any mother that bears and raises a child can account for that.   Any mother that has changed diapers, wiped tears, sacrificed her desires (and sleep) for her child knows this to be true.   She said yes, and carried him. She said yes, and raised him. She said yes, and held back and wept as her baby was crucified.   Any parent knows the love that she had for this child. Any mother that has lost a child, at any stage of life, knows the grief she must have experienced.   For this I don’t worship her, but for this I do ask her for strength in my hard times. She is the servant that let His will be done, and by doing so gave us the most intimate, physical connection with God. For this I revere her. This is an active love for me, not above my relationship with Christ, but greatly enhancing it on a daily basis.

Today’s story is a love story. Today’s sorrow has a happy ending.   Today’s pains and grief result in the greatest gift mankind has ever received. But on that day on Calvary, Mary only knew of one thing, that her beloved little boy was being murdered as a crowd watched.

Not just for me, and not just for you. The grief she experienced was for each and every single person we encounter, just as the pain Christ felt was non-discriminate.

Becoming a parent can serve as an eye-opening reminder of the love and sacrifice our parents gave – or were unable to give – each of us. Today I look beyond the great love my parents have for me, and appreciate the models of parenting displayed to us through both God the Father and Mary.   It’s so easy to forget or not realize but, for me, not today.

Easter blessings to you and yours.

Good Friday 2014: Behold the Wood

Five years ago, I wrote on an old blog about my reflection on Isaiah 53:6, “Each of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Now, I reread that text and reflect upon how my shallow ways and self-centered tendencies continue and newly materialize as a mom.  I think of how he did what he did for not just me, but for my babies.  And I am humbled beyond words.  You think nobody could love your kids as much as you do?  He does.  He loves us so much more than our little brains can comprehend.  You think you do things for your kids or loved ones that they’ll never fully appreciate or understand?  He definitely did that for me, and for us.  Today I am speechless, as I am every Good Friday.
Every blessing I have, every gift I receive, my babies’ smiles and my husband’s love…it’s all from him.  Every anxiety I feel, every worry I carry, every bad day/week/month…he felt them all at that moment. Today is a reflection of that day where he gave his own life for us, where he allowed all of our iniquities to fall on him.  And nothing can separate us from that love, from that sacrifice.  It is a terribly heartbreaking, humbling, and Good Friday.
We mourn.  We wait.  We pray.