Find your inspiration for Holy Week and Easter in these reflections
It's been a long 40 days with Jesus in the desert, and I for one am ready to celebrate his resurrection.
While Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek, our liaison to sisters in the United States, has compiled a wonderful lineup of sisters' columns for contemplation this Lent, Holy Week and Easter (read all of them here), we thought you might want more spiritual preparation.
Sister Michele and I have rediscovered a handful of Lenten, Holy Week and Easter reflections published on Global Sisters Report from years past to inspire you in this Holy Week and into the early Easter season.
There are even more reflections at our sister publication Celebration.
Jesus comforts the women by Sr. Laura M. Leming
Sister Laura has been drawn to the Eighth Station of the Cross, in which Jesus comforts the women, for several years, especially because of her work in India. There, she has seen girls losing ground in some sectors of Indian society; for example, girls receive less food and less education than their brothers. Through three stories, Sister Laura discusses how "Jesus continues to meet weeping women along the path, and in the compassion that is exchanged, all can find comfort."
A Lent for the whole world by Sr. Tracy Kemme
When you leave Mass on Ash Wednesday, do you make a conscious decision to change your life beyond giving up social media for 40 days? Sister Tracy reminds us all that Lent is a time of personal and societal transformation — but many Catholics conveniently forget about the "societal" part and turn a blind eye to injustices in their own backyard.
Inter-Mission: Springtime of body and soul by Sr. Janet Gildea
"Lent is about new growth that comes from the reinvigoration of deep roots," Sister Janet wrote. Not only is this the time of year her garden sprouts back up, but in 2016, she had the experience of seeing Pope Francis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where he embraced children, people with special needs, prisoners, the elderly, the sick and others on the margins. "Wherever he opened his arms there was a burst of color," she wrote — perfect for this season of renewal.
Cultivating a hungry heart by Sr. Colleen Gibson
Last year, Sister Colleen gave up eating between meals for Lent, and what she discovered was that not only did she need to feed her body, but she needed to fill her soul, as well. When she would sit in silence, all she found was restlessness. "I wanted to choose how and where I would be fed," she wrote. "In my hunger, I'd forgotten that grace cannot be dictated and God certainly cannot be controlled."
A modern-day crucifixion by Sr. Nancy Sylvester
In war-torn South Sudan, there are accounts of rape survivors arriving in refugee camps with harrowing stories of being tied against trees and gang-raped. Sister Nancy couldn't get these images out of her mind, and "the image of Jesus on the cross became visible. It was as if he could feel what was happening and wept again, suffered again." These Holy Week images are needed for our future transformation, she writes.
Betrayal in Holy Week: A lesson for life by Sr. Judith Best
A teacher of Sister Judith's at the University of Notre Dame once told an odd story about betrayal that has helped her negotiate some tough times. During Holy Week, Jesus is betrayed by Judas, Peter, and his other apostles, people who supposedly had deep love for him. The challenge after a betrayal, she writes, is to return to love, which Jesus exemplifies by asking God to "forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Holy Week: The art of remembering by Sr. Julie Vieira
Holy Week encompasses the journey from death into new life. During Lent last year, a friend of Sister Julie's passed away, and the way friends and family remembered the woman, "a vibrant woman who quite literally graced us with the gift of her presence and love," inspired Sister Julie to remember. During Holy Week, we remember Christ's saving activity, she wrote. But we don't think of Christ as a historical person who lived long ago, she says: We encounter the living God here and now.
In Zambia, sisters love fried matzah by Melanie Lidman
Melanie, our Africa and Middle East correspondent, is Jewish. During Lent 2015, she visited sisters in Zambia who, she discovered, have been celebrating a Passover Seder since 1974. Because the Last Supper was thought to be celebrated during Passover, Seders have come to play a very important role to some sisters. "The Passover meal is part of the Old Covenant, and you're still keeping it to recall how Israelites were saved," one sister told Melanie. "For us, it's a New Covenant, not just about the liberation, but about the transformation and our redemption."
'It was the women who stayed' by Sr. Christine Schenk
During Holy Week, we are told Jesus was abandoned by everyone. But was he? Sister Christine takes a look at the women who did not leave Jesus' side through passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. He had welcomed Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and "many others" into his discipleship. "His prophetic inclusion of married and single women and his special compassion for widows and the landless poor were part and parcel of his fidelity to Israel's God who, throughout history, upheld the lowly," Sister Christine wrote.
Called to widen our tents by Sr. Dorothy Fernandes
Jesus' way of life was to extend a welcome to all, regardless of background. But perhaps we have become too caught up in rituals, calling that spirituality, Sister Dorothy wrote. "Spirituality is about communion, about throwing one's lot on the Word that sustains and nourishes us," she said. "Often in my experience with people, it is this that people are seeking." Can religious across the globe walk the talk and be the leaven in the dough, the lamp in the darkness?
Easter message echoes poignantly true for Iraqi, Syrian refugees by Chris Herlinger
Easter takes on a different meaning when you've left everything behind because of conflict. Instead of the usual rejoicing, Easter becomes "perhaps more about recovery from the trauma of war, fear and flight," Chris wrote last year after visiting refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Still, even though the refugees could not celebrate Easter like they usually would, with a big meal, they gave thanks for each other and life amid the upheaval and ruin of war. "We can live Easter in our hearts," one refugee told Chris. "There are no limits in our hearts. Attending Easter Mass, that will be Easter. We will thank God for everything this Easter."
Dear God, please send me a crisis by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes
Everyone knows what happens after the disciples find the stone rolled away at Jesus' tomb. But Sister Kathryn focuses on the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The risen Jesus stops them to ask what's wrong, even though he more than anyone knows. But Jesus let the disciples talk, explaining how they felt, then showed them what God was doing in the midst of the crisis, which wasn't a crisis after all. When you find yourself in crisis, Sister Kathryn wrote, "you might allow Jesus to gently meet you in the same way."
Help wanted: Easter people by Sr. Susan Rose Francois
"We live in a world crying out for the joy, hope and peace of Easter," Sister Susan wrote. We celebrate Easter in climates of suffering and conflict, she said, and it's up to us to be Easter people in that world. It might seem hard to find joy in the midst of sorrow, but hope, joy and peace can manifest in surprising ways. "We must be creators of hope in our families, communities, and within our own hearts," she wrote. "God works through our hope, filling the chasms and bridging the divides."
[Pam Hackenmiller is managing editor of Global Sisters Report. Her email address is email@example.com.]
Enhance your Holy Week and the Easter season by visiting the free Celebration 'Lenten / Easter' page.
Check out Horizons, featuring reflections from younger sisters.