To Live in Love and with Love

Happy Easter! I pray that you are blessed on this day with the joy of knowing our Risen Lord!

I am not sure why but it felt like Lent flew by this year. I certainly made attempts to sacrifice, pray more and change during the penitential season of Lent, so it wasn’t that it was easier than other years. Last week, on Holy Thursday evening, as I visited Altars of Repose at Illinois Valley Catholic Churches, I wondered now what? Will the changes I made be long lasting? Will life, me and my life, return to the way it was before Lent? I know the answer now as a result of two things that greatly impacted me during the holy days of Triduum.

First, on Holy Thursday evening, I brought along my Give Us This Day daily prayer book to use during my quiet prayer time as I visited each church. I opened to the reflection, “Love Like This”, for Holy Thursday by Debie Thomas, an Episcopal Minister. Ms. Thomas shares her thoughts on Jesus’ last acts before his arrest, trial and death. She reflects on Jesus washing the feet of the apostles and that he models to “Love one another like this. Hands-on and no-holds-barred. Love until you surprise people. Love until the powerful of this world feel the threat of your love. Love until the broken of the world are healed, and the starving of the world are fed. Love until love becomes your signature, your trademark, your calling card, your identity. Love until you understand what I have done to you. Love until the world understands who I am.” I re-read that quote at every stop as I contemplated the immensity of God’s love, a love I will never be able to fully comprehend. Reading that, how could I ever end Lent with the thought of letting go of the changes I attempted to make and return to the person I was before beginning my Lenten journey?

Last night I attended Easter Vigil at my parish, Holy Family Church. Twenty years or so ago, Easter Vigil has become my favorite liturgy of the year. I love all the ritual and symbolism, moving from the darkness into the light by lighting the Easter Candle and all of our small candles from the one light, the Light of Christ. The many readings remind us of our faith journey leading to Jesus and salvation. I rejoice with Mary Magdalene and the apostles, as their grief and pain turns to wonder and immense joy in the Risen Lord.

Fr. Paul Carlson shared deeply insightful reflections, as he always does, but the first of his points accentuated the reflection on love that I have been holding since Thursday evening. He said “Our Easter hope and our Easter faith rests on the mystery of love… If we want to see what is true and real, the heart and the mind must be aligned in love. If we notice that at times our faith is weak, we will so often notice that our love is weak.” Fr. Carlson went on to reflect on why it might be that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were given the first privilege of seeing the empty tomb and the Risen Lord. He pondered that perhaps they were given this honor, among all the others that followed Jesus, including his apostles, because of their great love, they loved the most and the most simply. “Our faith rests first upon love.” “We need to love and we need to remain in his presence.” We can’t say that we love God, our Beloved, and then not spend time with him in prayer.

So today, on this beautiful Easter Sunday, I wish you joy and the love that we find in knowing Jesus as our friend, our teacher but most importantly, as Lord of our lives. May we grow deeper in the love that comes from growing closer to him, each and every day of these 40 days of Easter and beyond.

Peace, Deena

Photo – the gift of love, as Easter lily from my brother and sister-in-law, Gene and Stacie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s