Easter is our exclamation point to Lent. How low-key a day it would be if we didn’t have our Way of the Cross with Christ for the forty days preceding it. Easter is a time of great joy but how minimized it becomes if Easter is prepared for without a thought for Lent.
Some of the best advice I have heard regarding Lent is to use the time to change one, small aspect of ourselves. It sounds easy but it would take you forty days to make even a tiny improvement in life time habits.
Lent begins with the reminder of our ultimate demise from this world We are dust and will surely return to said state when our physical bodies die. Ash Wednesday has a way of imprinting this thought directly on our minds
I feel sorry for those who do not find their way to Stations of the Cross during Lent. How will they find their way if they do not follow Christ on that long, painful walk. Stations of the Cross seem to take up endless Friday evenings as we have to rush through dinner, bundle up tired children and often hold sleeping toddlers before Benediction is over. At the Recessional of the last Stations of the Cross for Lent, the time seemed all too short as I suddenly realized the sad sweetness I had been witness to for six consecutive weeks but failed to savor sufficiently. There was a sense of loss not relief that Stations of the Cross were over for Lent.
I also feel sorry for those who do not go that final path with Christ during Holy Week. How can you fully understand the celebration of Easter if you haven’t been to Holy Thursday and shared in the last Supper. What comparison do you have between sorrow and joy until you have watched the altar stripped of everything that reminds us of Jesus? How can you remain dry-eyed as the sanctuary light is extinguished while the choir intones for the last time that evening, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken Me?”
Good Friday is somber. Christ is judged and crucified. He is not in the tabernacle. There is no Sacrifice of the Mass. We only bow to the altar in remembrance of what we had only the day before. We miss Him now that He is not present. We venerate the crucifix but it seems so little compared to the circumstances that brought us to this moment. We fast and avoid meat yet how little a sacrifice it really is this day!
We find our way through the dark of the evening and the dimness of the church on Holy Saturday. There is no light, no Holy Water, no Sanctuary Light. We come to an empty church, seeking fulfillment. The momentum of the evening starts to build as a flicker of light indicates the kindling of the Easter Fire and the new water is blessed and the fonts are filled again. The organ which has been silent since Holy Thursday comes alive again at the Gloria. Altar boys happily replenish the flowers and altar cloths on the altar. The new fire has given us a new light, another chance to make a difference in our lives before the next Lent comes around. We hope that the highs and lows between the sorrows and joys of the Lent and Easter Season will see us through the coming year, secure in God’s grace.