Madeline and I had a very busy but meaningful Triduum. We attended a Seder lunch with Totus Tuus, our homeschooling group on Thursday. Madeline’s favorite part was raising her wine (AKA grape juice), murmuring a quick prayer, and then exclaiming, “Amen!” before taking a generous gulp. Best of all, she had the opportunity to repeat this ritual four times during the course of the meal. I didn’t realize how much she liked guzzling “wine” until we were out to dinner with my parents (her Gaba and Papa) on Saturday and Madeline pointed to Gaba’s rich Merlot and said, “Ma-Ma like wine. Hold up. Amen!”
On Friday we attended Stations of the Cross recited by two girls from Challenge, a wonderful organization for Catholic pre-teen and teenage girls. When I asked Madeline what she had learned during the Stations, she surprised me by replying, “Jesus died on cross. Mary sad. Jesus rose again. Mary happy!” I loved her simple yet veritable explanation. Who says a 2-year-old can’t begin to grasp tenets of faith? But the best part of her Cliff Notes version of the Stations of the Cross was the way she said these words. She wasn’t just regurgitating information or mimicking what she’d seen. She actually looked (and was) sad when she talked about Jesus on the cross, and the unbridled joy that came over her when she said, “Mary happy!” was unmistakable.
I experienced a similar kind of happiness when the joy of Easter was finally mine for the taking on Easter morning. After a long Lenten journey, I felt infinitely hopeful at the Easter Mass. It was a chilly spring day. Actually, it didn’t feel like spring in Georgia at all. I squeezed my pregnant bod into a kelly green dress, corduroy jacket, pantyhose, and knee-high boots (I’d planned on wearing something else entirely that did not require stuffing a basketball into nylons). But I felt impervious to the cold and so did Madeline who wore her new Easter dress (a gift from Gaba and Papa) despite the frigid air. Even seeing that some of flowers had died in the frost of the night, couldn’t keep me from feeling hopeful. In everything, I “saw and believed” (John 20:8) and experienced the joy of the resurrection all around me – from the colorful (and alive!) flowers adorning the altar and the beautiful music (I belted out “I Am the Bread of Life,” one of my favorite songs) to seeing all the children dressed in their Sunday best toting around their prized accoutrements – hand-sized toys the Easter Bunny surely brought them just before getting ready for Mass.
I love everything about Easter. I love the hope of the season, the knowledge that even though I stumbled throughout Lent (and boy did I stumble this year – see my previous post “Feeling Sleepier Than Thou During Holy Week”), I am given a chance at new life because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. Still, I suspect my love for Easter would be far less fervent if it wasn’t preceded by Lent. Take that one dark chocolate Dove egg I decided to savor on Easter. It wasn’t gourmet chocolate, but it seemed so much richer after the dearth of sweets I endured during Lent. Just as I’ll appreciate the warmth of the spring sunshine even more because of this unexpected cold snap, the joy of Easter is magnified because it is preceded by a time of penance, sacrifice and reflection on the Passion and death of Christ.
Happy Easter to all! May we fully celebrate the joy of the resurrection by never forgetting the sacrifice and suffering that paved the way for new life!