Dying and Rising-A A +A
Friday, April 25, 2014
THE forty days of Lent has come and gone, and it’s already the 50 days of Easter Season that we are now celebrating since Easter Sunday. This last Lent started not very differently from my past observance of Lent. I have to confess it ended far from how it had the previous years. And I thank God for this!
Flashback many summers ago, when I was still an “angelic” seven year old.
Days before Holy Week, my mother would prepare white angel costumes, complete with homemade wings, glued with snow-white cotton, for my three young sisters and I. During Palm Sunday, we joined other little girls from our parish in Saint James of Subic town, on top of several palm-decorated platforms, throwing petals of roses and singing, “Hosanna, Son of David” as we welcomed our parish priest, representing Jesus in a procession towards the church.
On the early morning of Easter Sunday, as the Holy Week celebration culminated in the final procession we called “Salubong”, I remember when it was my turn to be the Star Angel. I was hoisted up, seated in a seeming throne of a flower-decked chair, attached to a pulley. Then I was slowly brought down by the sturdy rope and stopped right behind the head of the image of the stunning “Dolorosa”. As cued, I dramatically removed the dark veil that was covering Mama Mary’s beautiful face and crown. This signified that we should already stop mourning and instead start rejoicing, for Jesus who died on Good Friday has by then risen!
Oh, how wonderful the memories of those bygone days. I remember feeling so overjoyed and honored when it was my turn to lift the veil, as all the other little angels sang with me, “Oh Queen of Heaven, be joyful! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Many years have passed since that time. I have married and raised four children who are now all adults. We have established our own family Holy Week traditions. I wish my two daughters experienced the same joy I had as a little “angel”. But, it was not meant to be.
Thankfully, we have managed to do our own yearly family Stations of the Cross, with the most recent one, in the beautiful and scenic Mt. Sto. Tomas. Some years, we did the Visita Iglesias, prayed the rosary as a family, and attended some of the Paschal Triduum celebrations, like the Last Supper, the Seven Last Words and the Easter Vigil.
What made this year especially different and meaningful for me, was the Lenten Retreat that Mike got invited to give at Immaculate Conception Parish in Aurora Hill. He received the invitation about three weeks before Holy Thursday, the day of the retreat. (Holy Thursday is officially the last day of Lent, and the first day of the three holiest days of the Liturgical year, the Paschal Triduum.)
Since it was a three-hour retreat, Mike asked me to help him prepare and facilitate the retreat. And from that day on, I felt that I was already attending a special retreat of my own.
Starting that day, I felt the need to prepare, not only for what we were going to share and talk about during the retreat, but more importantly, to be spiritually prepared. I knew we were being called to proclaim God’s words and message for the people He has called to be present on that day. What a “load” of responsibility it felt!
Attending a whole day retreat in Manila didn't seem enough as a preparation for us. I found myself saying yes to a two-day “Centering Prayer” seminar at Sacred Heart Community in Military Cut off. And what a beautiful gift of an experience it was. It is the kind of gift that continues giving as I strive to practice it daily in order to strengthen my personal relationship with God.
Sadly, I still felt so inadequate. I felt there was still something lacking in my preparation for the retreat. Then three days before the retreat, Beth Ginete, a friend from Manila gave me a surprise call, and invited us to listen to her and her husband as they give a life sharing in Baguio’s chapter of (BCBP) Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals.
Their sharing as a married couple was powerful and inspiring! I realized that God could use Mike and I too, as a couple. We simply had to do our part, and entrust the results to Him. And that is what we did.
Last weekend, Mike wrote in his column about the retreat we facilitated and his sharing on the Paschal Mystery in the Life of the Laity. He wrote that the term paschal mystery refers to the mystery of Jesus triumph over sin and death on Good Fridayand His entrance to the Glorified and Resurrected life on Easter Sunday. This mystery is a cycle of dying and rising that we also experience in our daily lives. (please read the April 17-20 issue of My Dearest…..)
I could not help but write about it now, too, when Mike asked me to take over his column this week.
My Dearest Readers (especially my Children),
I wish to share with you how God has blessed us a thousand fold, (a rising experience) simply because we said “Yes”, when He invited us to serve Him through the Lenten Retreat at the Immaculate Conception Parish.
Just like Michael, I too felt an enormous weight of responsibility when asked to share. While Mike is used to speaking in public and in fact had several talks lined up this whole month of April, I didn’t really relish the idea, and especially the “burden” its preparation entailed.
Many times prior to the retreat, I had to die to my selfish desires, and there were times it was painful. Isn’t it easier and more fun to just watch a nice episode of “Suits” or any of my children’s TV series? I had to die to my self-doubt and negative thoughts. It sure felt at times easier to complain (which I succumbed to a number of times) than to read the numerous articles I downloaded on the topic of the Paschal Mystery in the life of the Laity! I had to die to the tendency to procrastinate. Thank God for the grace to just keep on keeping on. I had to say “No” many times to sin in order for me to say “Yes” to God, and thus rise with Him to a New Life. A life that is pleasing in God’s eyes.
What a blessing of peace and joy it has given Michael and I after having done what we were supposed to do. What a blessing to receive the gifts of knowledge and deepened faith, all because we said Yes to God. And what a blessing of a renewed and strengthened relationship with a God who continues to make Himself known, only because we have signified an intent to love Him more, to know Him more and to serve Him through the people of the Immaculate Conception Parish. Indeed, not the least sacrifice is ever wasted if offered in good faith.
I thank God for making this Lent one to always remember and one to benchmark with for the rest of the Lents left in my life. I thank God for the Good Fridays. And I thank God for the Easter Sundays that make it worth the sufferings and pains of our Good Fridays.
My dearest children, may you learn to unite and offer all your sufferings and pains (believe me, there will be more as you grow older) with those of Christ, that you too may rise with Him to a new life, as He had promised.
“Dying, you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life, Lord Jesus, come in glory!”
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 26, 2014.