Carol S. Bannon ponders how putting God's Word front and center every day became a blessing during the challenges of this year's Lent and Easter.
This Lenten season was unlike any I had experienced. I know, many feel 2020 was truly a game changer ... and for our nation, I would agree. But for me, last Easter season was a time to make do, to adapt my personal family traditions to the new mandates which seemed to change every week; the confusion all these changes had on our Christian way of life was overwhelming. On the plus side, it was the year my married children and their families were to spend with their in-laws anyway, so I was already planning on a very small gathering.
In other words, the form my Lenten/Easter took in 2020 may have changed regarding the closure of churches and no Eucharist, but Father Rowland, our priest, was still accommodating. My sister and I went to Church on Holy Saturday, albeit an empty one, and had our Food Basket blessed. We shared services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, communicating via the chat feature Facebook Live offers. My biggest change was to the dinner menu ... we made do with four lamb chops instead of the traditional leg of lamb.
It was a quiet, different, and sober type of Lent and Easter.
This year, though, was filled with new insights. I found time to reflect on each day’s readings, took part once again in the Stations of the Cross with my fellow parishioners, and was able to delve deeper into the Bible through a study conducted by my parish priest. My Lenten observance allowed me time to truly consider, and change, the way I interpret the Word of God.
I saw Christ’s Passion through a mother’s eyes, felt the pain only a mother can feel when their child hurts.
I never made it through the Stations of the Cross without crying at the agony Mary must have experienced seeing her Son suffer such cruelty and then having to hold her dead Child in her arms. She had to have flashbacks of happier days... holding Him asleep in her arms, laughing with Him as He learned to shear a sheep, watching Him take His first steps, and talking with Him around the dinner table.
No matter their age, when others hurt our children, their agony is our agony.
I cried again during Holy Week’s Wednesday Mass as I contemplated this to be the last evening Jesus and Mary spent together. We know Holy Thursday was spent with His Apostles. We have been taught His Passion would begin in the garden. Or, did it begin on Wednesday for Mary and Jesus as they contemplated what was to come? Was Mary preparing herself, as we all do when confronted with the imminent loss of a loved one. Did Jesus comfort her? Did He just hold her? Did they reminisce about St. Joseph and the good times?
Last year saw the loss of my mom, dad, and sister within five months of each other. They each died after a very short unexpected diagnosis. I consider myself blessed to have had a few days with each of them to laugh and reminisce about all the happy times we spent together. We talked of what was to come, and we prepared ourselves the best we could. More importantly, we spent long moments together just holding hands and praying.
Was this how Mary and Jesus spent Wednesday evening?
I was humbled, too, contemplating the gift God gave us. When He offered Christ up on a cross for our sins, God did something He refused to accept from Abraham ... a Son killed. No parent I know would ever willingly offer up their child to be killed for someone else’s child. Yet, God in His Mercy did just that! When His Son’s Body was lifted high over Golgotha, when Jesus was raised over the bystanders on the ground, mankind was saved from Hell.
That gate was slammed shut, so Heaven’s door could open wide "for those believe."
And, as a mother I can well imagine the joy experienced by Mary when they were reunited Easter morning. Even now my eyes fill with happiness for Our Mother. I have no doubt that unlike the travelers on the road to Emmaus, she recognized her Son immediately and gave praise to God.
Easter 2020 was physically challenging due to the restrictions our government had put in place, but Easter 2021 was mentally challenging. I purposely and actively engaged in putting God’s Word front and center every day. And along my personal road to Calvary, many long-held beliefs were enhanced. I was able to see more clearly how we, as Catholic mothers, are graced with the love of our families and spiritual communities. It is our duty to prepare our families for the Kingdom to come; to give them the tools necessary so they will find their own way to Calvary.
May we always keep our eyes on the pathway home.
Veni, Sancti Spiritus, Veni!
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
About the Author
Carol Bannon currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband. She is a wife, mother, grandmother to seven, substitute teacher, and an active supporter of the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island (DSSRI). Carol is the author of Handshake from Heaven and Our Family’s Christmas Elf. She and her husband love to spend time boating on Cape Cod and traveling to new harbors.