Three Short Reflections for Holy Week and Easter

by Melannie Svoboda SND on April 15, 2019

Here are three short reflections for Holy Week and Easter. They are adapted from my book, By the Way:

“The Times We Live In”

Some of the Saints lived during terrible times. Take Catherine of Siena, who lived in 14th Century Italy. During her times, the Black Death raged throughout Europe killing 26 million people (an estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s total population!), mercenary armies prowled the countryside cutting a path of death and destruction wherever they went, and Pope Gregory XI was cowering in Avignon, France, leaving the Church in the hands of corrupt legates. In many ways, Catherine’s times were “the worst of times.”

But Catherine did not bemoan her times. She did not say, “If only the Black Death would go away… If only the world were at peace… If only we had perfect Church leaders, then I could really live my Christian faith.” No, Catherine became a saint by accepting her times as the context in which she was called to live her faith. She did not run away from the critical issues of her day; she engaged herself with them.

Sometimes we are quick to bemoan our own times. We assume that the world used to be a kinder and gentler place, and our ancestors had it easier than we do. But a quick perusal of history shows that every age, for one reason or another, could be called “the worst of times.” But, as Christians, we believe our age is precisely the context in which we are being called to live our faith. Like Catherine, we are being called to respond to the critical issues of our times with attentiveness, courage, love, persistence, and great faith in Jesus.

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“Love Is not Fair”

As children, most of us had a keen sense of fairness. If our brother got a bigger cookie, if our sister was allowed to stay up later than we were, if it wasn’t our turn to feed the dog and yet we were told to feed him, we were quick to protest, “That’s not fair!”

No wonder Jesus’ teachings on love are so hard for us. “When someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other one to him as well… from the person who takes your cloak, don’t hold back your tunic as well… Forgive your brothers and sisters not seven times, but seventy-seven times..” We protest: “But that’s not fair, Jesus!”

But when we recall God’s incredible love for us, we realize: that’s not fair either! That the God of Goodness and Power and Beauty and Truth should create us, should love us, should love me, a sinner, is not fair. But both our existence and our salvation are rooted in the unfairness of God’s love and mercy. And here’s the hard part: As Christians, we are called to love others as God loves us: compassionately, consistently, inclusively, and forgivingly. (To do otherwise, would not be fair!)

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“Quotations on Spring”

“If  spring came but once a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change.” (Henry W. Longfellow)

“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’” (Robert Orben)

“I wish each of us Easter eyes, able to perceive in death, life; in guilt, forgiveness; in separation, unity; in wounds, glory; in the human, God; in God, the human; and in the I, the you.” (Bishop Klaus Hemmerle of Aachen)

I wish each of you a blessed Holy Week and a joyful and glorious Easter!

 

Today’s song is a new song by Josh Baldwin, “When I Stand in Your Love.” There’s something about this song that really speaks to me. After I hear it, the refrain “haunts” me—in a good way. This version was recorded at a live concert. Standing in God’s love gives us hope and courage—especially when we are experiencing a Good Friday in our life…

Do any of the reflections, quotations, or the song elicit any response from you? As always, I welcome you to share a response below:

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

John E Hopkins April 15, 2019 at 5:37 am

Good morning, Sister Melannie.
As usual, has provided us with rich, spiritual food, something for us to chew upon as we enter the holiest week of the Christian year.
Your words about Catherine of Sienna were illuminating and hopeful. Yes, we are born into a historical context, one in which we — with God’s Grace –must engage.
And God’s love for us not being fair….What a brilliant reversal of that phrase! And we too must turn the other cheek, become seventy times seven
people. Again, something to digest as we enter upon this week.
Finally, I shall write down every one of those quotations of spring and somehow, some way, share them! Thank you! Happy Easter!

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Barb April 15, 2019 at 7:14 am

Thank you Sister, again for starting our week in such a thoughtful, beautiful way-love the song!

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Barbara April 15, 2019 at 8:13 am

Oh yes, what a wonderful to hear and participate in song. I will hear it in my head as long as I can. This is also, for me, one of those years that has become so hard to live through. You are helping me Sister and I truly, truly appreciate it.

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Michelle April 15, 2019 at 10:08 am

Barbara and Sr. Melanie: Yes, a difficult year. Without the promise of resurrection, our Savior dying for us (me!), how could we face tomorrow? A very wonderful post for our Holy Week journey. Thank you. M.

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Jean April 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

Good Morning Sister Melannie,
Thank you for your gift every Monday morning.
Happy Easter!!

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Maureen Spillanbe, SND April 15, 2019 at 8:56 am

Beautiful start to this Holy Week.
Thank you Melannie. 🙂
Have a most blessed Easter Also.

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Betty Caldwell April 15, 2019 at 9:38 am

Back in the 1940s When I was young we had a rtagman come by and asked for rags. He would pay us for them. I dont know if they were used for paper or nog

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Vicki April 15, 2019 at 11:34 am

Thank you for your inspiring words and the beautiful worship music.
I believe we are here, by God’s design, at just the right time in history.

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Marty April 15, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Prayer facing it ain’t fair.”Lord my God when your love spilled over into creation you thought of meI am from love, of love, for love. May nothing ever distract me from your love.
Neither health nor sickness, wealth nor poverty, honor nor dishonor, long life nor short life. May I never seek nor choose to be other than you intend me to be. Amen ” St Ignatius of Loyola

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Julie April 15, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Sr. Melanie, how timely is your reflection on St. Catherine of Siena! Especially as we hear the news of the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral! Thank you for encouraging us always as we try to understand God’s call to each of us as Christians. A blessed Holy Week to you and a very Happy Easter! Thank you!

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Melannie Svoboda SND April 16, 2019 at 10:27 am

Julie, As I watched live pictures of the Notre Dame Cathedral burning, I was moved to tears. It was so lovely, so old, so historic, and a beautiful symbol of our precious faith… My heart weeps… Thank you for your response, Julie… Melannie

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Terri April 16, 2019 at 9:09 am

Thank you for the reflection on St Catherine. It is so easy to forget all people in all times have struggled. When I am with persons who are poor I attribute their evident faith to what emerges when all of our layers of artifice and control are stripped away. So I need to add my challenges and worries to my gratitude list – hopefully they are helping me to uncover the whole picture of my brokenness and remind me to get about the work God has in mind. A Blessed Holy Week and Easter, Sr. Melanie!

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