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Dear Siblings, postulants, and friends,
God’s Peace and blessings to you all! I greet you today in the name of the risen Lord! I pray that you all had a formative Lent, a prayerful Holy Week, and a joyous Easter celebration.
Last year, my Easter message to you all was to remember that in the midst of our celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection, we must be mindful of those who are still rooted in Good Friday. And again, as we celebrate, I would remind you all that there are still those who need to hear the good news that grief and loss are not eternal.
This year, I would invite you to take on an Easter discipline. Sure, a Lenten discipline goes without saying. It’s what we’re all expected to do. But Easter? Well, let’s remember that the Easter celebration is intentionally longer than the Lenten fast. Our liturgical calendar (or Kalendar, for all of us traditionalists), is structured to emphasize the importance of the Feast, so I would ask, how will you live out that importance? Lent is a time of preparation, and we prepare through our various disciplines. But what use is that preparation if we do not follow through?
During the course of the Triduum, we recounted our Christian story. We tell our stories within the context of the liturgy to remind ourselves of what our identity really is. It can be easy to fall back into ourselves, into our religious communities, and pat each other on the back as we remind ourselves of who we really are. But what was it that we heard Jesus command both in the Maundy Thursday liturgy and the Great Easter Feast? On Maundy Thursday, we heard that we must love others as Christ loved us, and that others will know us by that love. That means that others will know of this Christian identity without us having to say a word. Love is not just lip service, it is action! And then we found ourselves with the Marys at the tomb. And what were they told there? To go out and tell others that Christ had risen!
So here is the discipline that I would invite you to explore this Easter. For the next 50 days, how will you show that you are Christian? How will you tell others about the God that we have encountered without having to heap even more words onto a society that is already inundated with words upon words?
Remember how Henri Nouwen described driving down the highway in The Way of the Heart? With all those billboards, it was like driving through a dictionary! We live in a world that has become desensitized to words. Do we want our story to become just one more billboard that people ignore as they pass through life?
So this year, I invite you to be inventive. Be imaginative. How will you show people what we have discovered without having to speak first? The motto of our Order is Silentio Coram Deo, silence before God. This Easter, how will you be silent before other people and still fulfill that ultimate command given to us by our Lord?
As you find your discipline, I hope you’ll share it with us all. I look forward to hearing what you will do. And remember, like all disciplines, it will take effort. After all, we have 50 days to keep it up. So support one another and keep each other accountable in this. This is one of the great gifts of community, is it not?
Know that you are all in my prayers, and I ask that you keep me in yours. Let us rejoice that the Lord is risen indeed! God’s Peace.
Silentio Coram Deo,