I am sad to see how some of the Catholics I know celebrate Holy Week. I would like to tell each and everyone of them it is more than just vacation and taking a break at the nicest beach. It is not just a time for eating benignit (a Filipino sweet porridge). I am not generalising though. For we may go to the nicest beach and eat benignit in a reflective mode. Or we may starve to death showing people we fast and suffer but we judge and hate with our hearts harder than hard boiled eggs. Bottom line, how we celebrate this most important week of our Christian faith is between us and HIM :)
When I was in my twenties (wow I felt old saying that lol) my parents introduced me and my four younger siblings to this Easter practices: fasting and prayer from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. No solids, just water as much as possible. If we really couldn't take it, we could have Milo or soup. It was not compulsory but I saw my father doing it so religiously so I felt ashamed and started to do it too. I tried to pray and reflect a bit but over the years, I realized I just did it for the sake of doing it. It's quite fun and fulfilling to be able to do it. It gave me pride. In short, I did it, yes, but not so much for the right reasons...
Fast forward in my late thirties. Wow. I have come a long way in my faith, still struggling and failing a lot. But it is a lot different now because I am doing it not with pride, but with much joy and peace, believing that in my failures and shortcomings, God loves and accepts me. I don't need to make pa-impress :)
I also realised why Jesus rose from death.
Yeah, I know He died. It's because of my sins but that's way too abstract for me. I have been longing to understand the concrete. This year, I found it. He endured all the pain and suffering (I have recently watched a documentary on how it really was for Jesus to be crucified, as explained by doctors, scientists. It was too painful to watch. He SUFFERED. Very Painfully. His skin, bones, muscles, his heart, his lungs, his mind. All of his being. HE HAD A CHOICE to say NO. But he didn't. I was crying inside, wanting to close my eyes and ears like I normally would for horror movies). He suffered and chose to die. So that in my PAIN and suffering, I will remember that He suffered too. I will remember that he is with me. I am never alone.
I know He chose to die. So that He can rise again. For my salvation. He died so that we can CELEBRATE EASTER!!! SO That at this time of the year, I can shout with joy: CHRIST IS RISEN!!! And when I do so, I will remember why...
Christ is risen because I can love my CROSS. I can accept my suffering with total trust and obedience.
Christ is risen because I can be happy and continue to love life even if my beloved eldest son has Autism. Celebrating his being different, accepting the difficulties that come with it, with a smile :) And when I do so, I am more open to greater possibilities. Freedom. Enthusiasm in my autism advocacy and in teaching Kuya.
Christ is risen because I can understand and accept (although not in a cheesy way, yet.) a friend who hurt and have done me harm. Realising in the process that I am not a perfect friend too.
Christ is risen because I can give even if at times I feel I have nothing, even if it is painful. Discovering in the end that giving with no IFs and BUTs will give me peace without compare.
Christ is risen because I can love myself. The ugly me. The bad me. Seeing in the end that I am beautiful and good because I am God's daughter.
Christ is risen so that I WILL BE HAPPY :) It is therefore a very Happy EASTER!!!!
... Easter goodies! Hard eggs, a symbol of our hardened hearts without Christ. We need him constantly so that we can love our enemies and find happiness in the process.
... last year, I wished for this. For Kuya to be with us. Although, because of his sensory struggles, couldn't stay in a room full of rejoicing sinners, he had to stay in a different room, playing Ipad. But he was smiling everytime I checked on him :) I was really happy that night *tears of joy*.
... Mae took our blurry family photo above. Then I took this clear photo of her with my handsome princes. Life can be unfair you know! haha!
... This boy who slept last year, walked with the kids for the procession, holding a candle, sang with his musical sticks, sat with the cantors, stayed awake til after the 9 readings! And Japheth (his church BFF, beside him) stayed awake the whole time! They and all the other children did all these away from their Moms and Dads! Wow! So deserving of all those Easter chocolates :)
... for many years, we would celebrate Easter Agape dinner in hotels or in nice restaurants. This year, we opted for a much simpler, cheaper venue... Uncle Loius! It's a kopitiam Agape inspired by the humility and the simplicity of our beloved Pope Francis :) And I double confirmed: IT'S THE COMPANY THAT COUNTS! :)
Thank to you if you are still there! I pray, may everyday be an Easter to you and your family! xoxo, Gen.