Holy Week; an Anecdote from My Life

This is a repost from my other blog, 5 and Counting…Musings of a Missionary Mommy  .  Sometimes Holy Week takes us by surprise and we feel like we miss it as it whizzes by and whisks us to Easter Sunday.  Sometimes life just gets in the way and we don’t get to truly take a breath and contemplate the Paschal Mystery before its already played out in the Easter Triduum.  This little anecdotal post is my experience of Holy Week; Mommy Style: 

“He’s dead.”

“Wait, here comes Jesus!”

“Get alive again!” (in a deep ‘Jesus Voice’)

“He’s alive, He is ‘risened’ from the dead!”

 This may sound like a reenactment of Jesus raising Lazarus, or maybe the Easter Story.  But its not.  It is my children playing with their dinosaurs and Thomas trains.  And a Jesus doll.  Or maybe its a GI Joe in Barbie’s nightgown….

This is the beginning of Holy Week.  Random toys being “Raised from the dead” is a pretty good  indication that Easter will soon be upon us.

 There was a time in my life when Holy Week was spent in quiet solitude.  Intense meditation.  Contemplative sadness and melancholy.  I would spend Holy Thursday reading all the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, watch Jesus of Nazareth, and silently mediate on the Eucharist and Christ’s sacrificial suffering – knowing what was to come.  Then on Good Friday I would spend the hours of noon to 3 completely silent.  I would walk the Stations of the Cross at Church.  At Franciscan University I loved their woodsy Station Walk on the hill.  I would read all the Gospels again – this time the Passion of Christ.  Next would be the Revelations of St. Bridget.  I concentrated on Christ’s account of His Passion and Death.  The  day would continue in quiet melancholy.  Saturday would be much the same, until the evening when the Vigil Mass began.  Seeing the candles lighting the darkened Church, and then the Beautiful moment when the Lights come on – He is Risen!  Alleluia!

 I sigh wistfully at the memories.  I am sure someday I will once again have the luxury of immersing myself completely in Holy Week.  I hope so.  For now, though, my “Easter Experience” is far different.  This is because I am raising small children.  Holy Week has taken on a whole new dimension of “sacrificial suffering.”  While I would love to mope and meditate, completely lose myself in the awesome Scandal of the Cross, I can’t.  Not when there are diapers to change, children to school, Band-Aids to be put on with a kiss, meals to cook, lessons to drive to, and young hearts to train up in Holiness.  So more often than not, its a prayer and a wistful look at my bookshelf full of great texts by Holy men and women.  A sidelong glance at my prayer corner, and back to reality as the little one tries to crawl all the way into the Wood Stove (again), dumping a box of cereal all over the floor on his way.

 At first I was tempted to get frustrated.  After all, this is Holy Week, don’t I deserve the “time off” to do the things I like to during this unique week in the Liturgical Year?  Then that thought came back and smacked me in the face.  How selfish of me!  Of course this is Holy Week, and yes there are things that would be meaningful to me, but some of them are not practical with small ones underfoot.  THIS, right now is my path to Holiness.  How can I best unite myself to Christ’s Passion this week?  By embracing the crosses of Motherhood.  By putting aside what I want to be doing, and instead taking the opportunity to teach my children why we call this week “Holy.”  There will be times for prayer, and contemplation.  They may not be when I would choose, but I can recognize an opportunity and take it.  I may not have the luxury of planning out my own personal Holy Week schedule, but I will have the chance to enter into the great Mystery – the Holy Scandal of Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection.  It may be while I am vacuuming up spilled cheerios, or mopping up a gallon of dumped water, but I can take this quiet time to prayerfully “multitask.”

 I can accept the added humility of having my littlest one melt down at the Penance Service in front of all the praying people, only to have him accompany me  – clutching my neck lest I put him down – into the confessional and repeat everything I say – loudly.  I can suffer through another viewing of Veggie Tales’ Easter Story (it gets a little old after continuous viewing for 4 years strait!)  I can tell and retell the story of Christ’s Passion – paying special attention to St. Peter cutting off the Servant’s ear, because that’s my 3 year old’s “Favorite part,” and only to be interrupted every few words with questions and comments.

 “Well, how many thorns were there?”

“I think ‘Punchless Pilate’ needed to take Martial Arts. Then he would know how to punch.”

“I think Simon of Cyrene was called “Si-Cy”like a nickname.” (Um, OK?),

“Mommy, what’s a cock and why does it crow?”

“Mommy why does it say “ass” in the Bible? Why did Jesus ride on one? Isn’t that a fresh word? What was Jesus thinking?”

“When He made the first miracle with bread turning into His body, did a part of His body come off?” “Did they drop Jesus when they took Him off the cross?”

“Did they put only one nail in His feet because they ran out?” and so on, and so on.

This is my Holy Week.  It may have its frustrating times, but honestly, all that pales when I see my kids “raising their trains and dinosaurs from the dead.”  On some level they are beginning to understand.  I am thankful that its not all “Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs.”  While that infamous oversized rodent will be making his way to our house this Sunday, its not the only thing in their minds.  When I glance into the toyroom and see them pretending to wait outside “Jesus’ Tomb,”  When they begin to clap at the “Miracle” during Mass (Transubstantiation) and proclaim  (albeit loudly) that “It happened! The Miracle Happened! Its Jesus’ Body!  Just like the Last Supper!!” I know that in their own way, they are entering into the Paschal Mystery too.

 Maybe I don’t get to experience Holy Week the way I would choose to, but I do get to experience it through the eyes of my children; and in all honestly, that can be good enough for me.

May you have a Truly Holy Week, and Joyous Easter!

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Abortion, Pornography, and a Pope

Lately I have been doing a lot of reading.  As I devour book after book, some on Kindle for Mac, some in hard cover, I am beginning to sense a sort of theme – a commonality among some of the most recent titles I have read.  I began with Abby Johnson’s Unplanned, then I read Shelley Lubben’s The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn, and now I am plowing (once again) through George Weigel’s Biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope.  At first glance it may appear that these titles have nothing to do with one another.  I mean seriously what do abortion, pornography and a Pope have at all in common?

Lately abortion and sex trafficking have been getting a lot of attention in the media – especially in the more conservative media circles.  It’s hard for me to check my email or hop on Facebook without reading a headline from one group or another decrying the latest Planned Parenthood Scandal, or the newest Abortion Industry outrage.  While keeping myself informed and engaged in the new momentum that is sweeping the Pro-Life Movement, I have been continuing to follow the work of an amazing group of Modern Day Missionaries –  The Pink Cross Foundation.  Pink Cross is dedicated to rescuing men and women both from the porn industry and porn addiction.  It was founded by Shelley Lubben, a zealous Christian whose past includes acting in porn films – in other words, she is a former porn star who also “worked” turning tricks and dancing in other areas of the “adult world.”  Now though, she is on fire for Christ, and for exposing the real Truth about pornography and the industry that creates it.  Her book, The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn rips off the facade of sexy glamour and seduction, and shows the ugly, awful Truth about pornography.  I’ve also become even more impressed with the expanding (with a newly updated) The King’s Men – a men’s ministry whose website describes its Mission as “Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation and action.”  A large component of the King’s Men Ministry is combating pornography, the “adult” industry and lust.   Through The King’s Men, men are finding freedom and Truth.

*A reclamation of feminine dignity, finding freedom from a pornified culture, and discovering that one CAN be happy and whole despite a loved one’s addiction are some aspects of the Daughters of the Heavenly King Ministry that I feel called to really grow and develop.  I ask for your prayers as I seek to follow God’s Will in this.*

But back to our question: what do abortion, pornography, and a Pope all have in common?

Human Dignity. The answer to the question, “What are we as humans worth? And why?”

It struck me as I was reading Witness to Hope.  Weigel explains that as a humanist, and as a phenomenologist whose Catholic Faith infused Truth into every aspect of his life and philosophy, Pope John Paul II identified the great danger facing our world not as one single issue but as a crisis of ideas.  In other (more simple) words (the late Holy Father was incredibly profound and deep!)  instead of identifying one issue as the most pressing or horrible, or naming one crisis as the most important to face, John Paul II believed that the crisis and question facing humanity at this point in history is one of ideas.  One of understanding.  Get it wrong, and everything else falls apart too.  The beginning of all problems, crises, and  controversial issues is at its root – an idea – either a faulty idea and understanding , or one rightly based in God’s Truth.

This is what abortion and pornography have in common.  A faulty idea.  An idea that is corroding our very

culture.  The idea that some human lives do not have dignity.  That some humans are expendable – that they can be discarded or objectified.  That people can be murdered, degraded, made to suffer and even die to serve the whims and pleasures of others.  It’s the same faulty idea that made slavery a booming business.  It’s the same faulty idea that fuels the human trafficking (modern-day slavery) black market.  It’s the false idea that allows a mother to convince herself that she has a right to kill her child, and pornographers to exploit the women and men they’ve coerced into “working” for them.    It’s the false idea about just what the worth of a human person is.  What the dignity of the human person is.

Pope John Paul II tirelessly proclaimed that each and every human person has a worth and a dignity that is completely independent of utility. He declared that a person has an intrinsic worth simply because they are a person – created by God.  What a bold declaration in this day and age; especially coming from a man who grew up behind the “Iron Curtain.”   Yet, it is this idea that John Paul II so desperately wanted to communicate to us!   Why?  Because John Paul II was a man of Hope!  What gives us hope?  The idea that God loved us so much that He created us in HIS OWN Image, and sent to us His Incarnated Son!  John Paul II had this to say about hope to the United Nations, “Hope and trust are the premise of responsible activity and are nurtured in that inner sanctuary of conscience where “man is alone with God” and thus perceives that he is not alone amid the enigmas of existence, for he is surrounded by the love of the Creator!”  How do we know that he is indeed surrounded by the love of the creator?  Because that creator loved man enough to stamp on him His Own image.  This act of creating man in His Image is what, according to the late Holy Father, infuses man with a dignity that is independent of anything else.

The theme of individual dignity runs through much of what John Paul II preached and wrote about.  One of the greatest works to consider the God-given dignity of the human person is his Theology of the Body. Originally a series of talks given at his general audiences, the Theology of the Body is a compilation of  the late Pope’s thoughts on his exegesis of Genesis 1:27, God created man in his Image, in the Divine Image He created him; male and female He created them.

It is this declaration that answers the great question at the root of our discussion.  What do abortion, pornography, and a Pope have in common?  The pope understood that the foundational idea behind abortion and pornography is the same.  They are two manifestations of the same warped concept of human dignity.  They illustrate that on some level there is a social acceptance of the idea that some humans can be used or discarded at the whim of others.

This dangerous thought process is seen in play in the debates revolving around euthanasia, eugenics, and the infamous “death panel” discussion.  Most recently we saw this mentality being challenged by the story of Baby Joseph, and we were reminded of Terri Schiavo’s terrible ordeal and death at the hands of her husband just last week, as the anniversary of her passing was remembered.

Every year  1.2 million children are trafficked around the globe – most of them into the sex industry.  Pornography continues to net more profit than the combined revenues of all the major sports franchises, and abortion is Planned Parenthood’s most profitable revenue source.  Why? Because there is a great disparity between the dignity a person has, and whether or not that dignity is regarded as being intrinsic to their very being.

So what do we do with this information?  What do we, what can we, as women, do?  How do you stop abortion, pornography, and all the other atrocities committed against the very dignity of our fellow men?  We must change the idea. We must challenge the very understanding that has been born of the faulty idea that all persons do not have an intrinsic, God-given dignity, as such.   Then we must replace this very misled understanding with the Truth.  God’s Truth.  We do this one person at a time, starting with ourselves.  THAT is the mission of Daughters of the Heavenly King.  To reclaim the dignity we have as God’s Daughters.  The dignity we have as females, created in the Image and Likeness of our loving Father of Lights.  Once we have truly reclaimed our dignity for ourselves, we can reclaim and reshape the entire culture!  Our witness alone sheds light on the areas of the cultural understanding that need to be infused with God’s Truth.  By building up one another, by encouraging one another, and by challenging head-on the evil ideas that have created the injustices of abortion, pornography, human trafficking, euthanasia…we create a new community that will discard the old and evil ideas and replace them with the Love and Truth of God’s plan for us as His people.  John Paul II had such hope!  He knew that as our understanding of our true dignity as persons, created in God’s Own Image, grew, that the Truth could not be contained, and the very culture of the world could be transformed!  It is up to you and I to accomplish this.  It is our prayer-filled example, our boldness in proclaiming the Truth, our fearless witness to the true dignity of all persons that will bring about this transformation.  As John Paul II so often proclaimed, “Do not be afraid!”  Your beautiful, strong, tender, feminine hearts are more than up to the task!  The Truth is already on our side!  John Paul II, pray for us!

This Post is dedicated in Memory of John Paul II, in honor of his Beatification which will take place on

May 1, 2011.

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