God’s Peace and blessings to you all! Christ anesti! Christ is risen! And so we begin the 50 days of celebration that is the Easter Season. For many of us, today is often sluggish. After the rigors of Holy Week and the early Vigil service of Easter morning, we could all usually do with a full day of rest. As the previous week catches up with us, we hardly have the energy to celebrate on the day after Easter. But we are called not just to celebrate the Risen Lord on Easter morning, but for a full 50 days, outstripping the 40 days of penitence in Lent.
But when the alarm goes off on Monday morning, we wonder how on earth we managed to get up at 3:30 AM the day before. And for most of us, Monday means that it’s back to the real world, back to the usual schedule and demands of life. It’s back to work for some. Back to school for others. Easter has come. We have celebrated the miracle of the Resurrection, but life goes on just like before. And for many in our Order, and those out in the world, life circumstances have left us in the waiting of Holy Saturday, still waiting for the true release that comes on Easter morning. School is still ongoing, with no clear design after graduation. The job search is still on, trying to find employment that fulfills and still pays the bills. Transition in life is still uncertain. Spiritual discernment is never ending. We know that it is Easter, but we still feel the anxieties of Holy Saturday just as the Apostles did.
But as contemplatives, we often find our greatest formation in paradox. And as disciples 2,000 years after the fact, we already know the end of the story. Of course, knowing what is coming, having faith that the tomb of our despairs will be empty, believing that God is waiting to find us out on the road, all this does not make the anxiety of our lives disappear. We still have to sit with the tension and live through it. But in truly knowing that the tomb is empty, we have faith that God is here with us, even in the midst of our tension and anxieties. And remembering that takes effort.
Lent is a period of inner work, penitence and discipline, that leads us to Easter. But that does not mean that Easter, even as a celebration, is nothing more than coasting and taking it easy. Like an athlete that trains day after day, preparing for the marathon, we train day after day in Lent to prepare for the marathon that is Easter, but that marathon still requires tremendous effort. Even in the midst of Resurrection, we will be with Thomas and experience his doubts. We will walk with the Apostles, still feeling loss because we do not recognize the Resurrected Christ in front of us who is comforting us. We will fall into despair and require a familiar act like the breaking of bread to remember that the tomb is indeed empty, that the story did not end with the crucifixion, but continues on everyday in the glorious Resurrection!
Remembering to celebrate these 50 days of Easter will take effort, but it is an effort that brings joy, hope, and peace. This Easter season, I ask you to pray especially for those who are still waiting in Holy Saturday, and who need the promise of Easter more than ever. We, as contemplatives, have found God inside us. We have each experienced that Love. Now, we must be true disciples and carry that Love out to those who so desperately need it. And as a community of contemplatives, when you find a Brother or Sister who is experiencing the anxieties of life, help each other in this season of Easter by reminding one another that the Christ is Risen, that the Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! God’s Peace.
Silentio Coram Deo,
Br. Kenneth Hosley, O.P.C.