Happy anniversary to us. Sixteen years ago today, Dennis and I were married at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in the Bronx. And what a lovely day it was. Windy, but lovely. Seems like yesterday. Then I look at our three beautiful children and remember it’s been quite a few years since that photo above was taken at our reception.
We went for unconventional. Because we are unconventional. I remember, as I walked across the street from my apartment to the church, an old lady pointing toward me and saying, “That’s the bride?!?” She assumed I was a bridesmaid because I was in a wine-colored velvet dress. Like I said, unconventional.
The Mass was truly the centerpiece of our wedding day. We walked each other down the aisle, and carefully chose every reading, wrote every prayer of the faithful, picked every song. It was everything we wanted it to be. And then we followed it up with a kick-butt Italian dinner at Spoto’s, a Throggs Neck restaurant. The royal wedding’s got nothing on us. I’ll put our day up to theirs any time.
So I look back with so many fond memories, but I look forward, too — to everything that’s still ahead. I married my best friend, who also happened to be my colleague in the Catholic press. What a combo. I have been blessed.
Happy 16th anniversary, Dennis. I love you. As the plaque in our entry says, “Grow old with me. The best is yet to be.” Here’s our wedding song, “Emotionally Yours,” by Bob Dylan:
I’ve been awake since 4:30 a.m., which seems appropriate somehow on this day of watching and waiting. The rain is coming down. The sun has not made an appearance. It is as if the world is weeping and holding its breath all at once, waiting for an answer.
At this point in the season, past the Lenten promises — too many of them unfulfilled — to fast and pray and serve, I always identify with Peter, locked away, afraid, ashamed, alone. Every year I want Lent to be “perfect.” I want to make Good Friday better than perfect. I want to do justice to the day, as if that’s even possible. And, as if on cue, every year I fail miserably. Good Friday always ends up being the exact opposite of what I had hoped for. Of course, that’s nobody’s fault but my own.
Then I remember Peter, and I can’t help but be comforted. He doubted, denied, ran away, and yet Jesus saw fit to call him the “rock,” the one who would go on to lead his church, or, at that point, his band of disciples. Maybe, just maybe then, Jesus sees some shred of worth beneath my many failings, behind my own doubts and fears.
This Lent certainly did not turn out the way I imagined it would. My plans to set aside certain times for silence and prayer were waylaid by sick children and my own bout with a brief illness. For weeks on end, we seemed to have one virus after another at our house, keeping us down — both physically and spiritually. Rather than hang on for dear life to what I wanted, however, I began to realize that perhaps my “sacrifice” for the season was to let go of my plans, even the plans to pray more, and accept what was right there in front of me — my children in need of a mom to read to them, comfort them, make them snacks, or just snuggle on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. In some ways, my Lenten plans were far more selfish than the Lenten reality I was handed. I wanted to lock myself away in silence. Instead I had to give up my quiet time and make time for someone else, and isn’t that what I should have been doing in the first place?
So today, as I sip coffee in the silence of early morning, while everyone else is sleeping, I’m focusing on the fact that things often are not as they appear — as the earliest disciples learned after what at first seemed like defeat on the cross. My Lent wasn’t really a failure; it was simply different than what I wanted it to be initially. Perhaps then, my Good Friday wasn’t a failure either. Perhaps it was simply another — albeit bumpier — path to the same Truth.
On this Holy Saturday, I am waiting in shadows of my own making, like Peter, longing to be set free.
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:31-32
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, N.Y.
Father forgive them, they know not what they do…
We see Jesus on the cross today and hear him forgiving his persecutors, forgiving us. It is a powerful scene, but it is more than just a scene out of our faith history. Jesus’ way is supposed to be our way. Forgive, forgive, forgive, even in the face of the most unreasonable suffering and injustice. Are we willing to forgive as Jesus did?
Today you will be with me in Paradise.
The “good thief” has always been a favorite of mine. Imagine in your last dying moment that you utter a few kind words and are assured by Jesus himself that you will be in heaven with him that day. It would be nice to assume that in that situation I would have taken the path of belief, like the good thief, but there is a much bigger part of me that probably would have been like the unrepentant thief, expecting mercy and miracles despite faithlessness.
Woman, behold your son…
At last a comfort in the midst of all this misery. God gives us a mother for all time. He reminds us that his mother is our mother, who, with a mother’s unconditional love, will open her arms to us when we are desperate, when we are hurting, when we are searching for peace and a way back to the Father.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Despair, despair. If Jesus can feel despair, what hope is there for me? Then again, Jesus’ moment of despair reminds me of his humanness and that gives me hope even in this dark moment. God became man, walked on earth, suffered torture and death beyond our comprehension. My God is fully human and fully divine. My God knows what it means to live this earthly life, and so my God knows my small sufferings and heartaches and will not turn His back on me.
The wretched physical anguish of the Crucifixion is coming to bear. It is almost too much for us to take. Jesus, water poured out for the world, thirsts. And yet in the midst of this suffering, we remember Jesus’ words to the woman at the well, the woman to whom he first revealed his identity: “…whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.” (John 4:14)
It is finished.
Jesus has completed his mission of redemption. Darkness descends, the earth shakes, the temple curtain tears in two. We see Jesus’ anguish near its end. We should be reduced to trembling at the enormity of his suffering, his gift to us. Unlike his followers who were plunged into fear and despair at this moment, we have the benefit of hindsight. We know what is coming. We know that his Crucifixion was cause for our salvation. His death a victory. His earthly end our eternal beginning.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Jesus is going back to the Father, back to where he started before time began, but he will not leave us orphans. We patiently wait to celebrate his Resurrection, to rejoice in our unearned windfall. We wait, pray, watch, listen — hopeful, trusting, faithful. We begin our vigil now, waiting for the darkness to turn to light.
Today I’m guest blogging over at Sarah Reinhard’s blog, SnoringScholar.com. I’ll start you here…
By Mary DeTurris Poust
My teenage son came home from school last week and reported that he took his younger Catholic school “buddy” across the street to our parish church to walk him through the Stations of the Cross. After they were done and were getting ready to leave the church, Noah had a strong desire to stay – and not just because he likes missing class. It was something he had never felt before, he said, something comforting that made him want to kneel down in the midday silence.
I know that feeling. I’ve been in our church when it’s semi-dark and completely empty. It feels deeply spiritual and powerfully peaceful. It feels like home.
It’s really not surprising that it would feel that way. After all, ours is a faith that centers on a shared meal, a spiritual version of the kitchen table, a sense of home even among strangers, even in a foreign land, wherever Jesus is present in the tabernacle.
Holy Thursday drives that point home for me. I can easily allow myself to slip back in time and imagine Jesus and the Apostles gathered in the home of a friend…Continue reading HERE.
With a breathtaking valley stretching out below and an ancient monastery clinging to the cliffs above, Subiaco, Italy, feels as though it is a world away from the chaotic streets of Rome, only 40 miles to its west. And, in a sense, it is.
Steeped in history that stretches back to the Roman Empire and the earliest centuries of the Roman Catholic Church, Subiaco is a place out of time, giving visitors a chance to step into the very same cloisters, caves and gardens that were once home to ancient saints and medieval monks. (more…)