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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