Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there
If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall sustain me. Psalm 139.
We’re not going to church this Easter. We’re staying home.
But that does not mean we will be separated from the Lord. All it means is that we won’t be able to partake of the beautiful liturgies of the Triduum and Easter. We must forego the haunting moment when the priest carries the Host out of the sanctuary and it becomes just another big echoey room. The change, the difference, when He is removed is so stark and stunning that it kind of rocks you the first time you feel it.
We’ll miss that this year.
We won’t kiss the cross on Good Friday or pray through the Scriptures at Easter Vigil. We won’t re-live the terrible story of the Passion on Palm Sunday. We won’t get to process into church, waving our palms and making sure the kids don’t use them to sword fight.
This year, it’s all on us. We can watch the Holy Week services on tv, and if we do it prayerfully, we’ll feel the blessing.
Perhaps most important, we can learn the core lesson of living in faith. The most important message of this unusual Lent is the simplest.
When Jesus told us that He would never leave us, He meant it.
I have the highest opinion possible of the graces and power of the Eucharist. It was Christ in the Eucharist Who called me to the Catholic Church, Christ in the Eucharist who bids me to stay.But I also know without any doubt that the Holy Spirit and the graces of God are not contained by the Eucharist. When you are lying on a table in surgery and the doctor starts the flow of the drugs running cold and burning hot into your arm, Jesus is there. When you are cooking supper, Jesus is there. When you wake in the morning and go to sleep at night, Jesus is with you.
Jesus is with you when you go down to your personal pit of hell. He is with you when you climb to your greatest successes.
And He is with you right now, as you contemplate Easter with no mass, no church, no organ music and no flickering candles.
The mass is beauty that gilds history’s greatest ugliness. It re-enacts the torture and murder of God in the flesh by corrupt priests and a cowardly politician.
The mass is awful and wonderful. But it is not pretty. No matter how we dress it up with incense, flowers and song, the ugly bones of what it represents stick up through the lace. It is the Temple sacrifice of the Son of God, the lamb without blemish, for our sins. It is our entrance into God’s Passover.
The miracle is that God’s Passover is ours without the mass as well as with it. The Holy Spirit will sprinkle the Blood of the Lamb on the lintel posts of the doors of our hearts this Easter. All we have to do is open ourselves to Him and the graces that He gives us.
God is lavish with His love.
He will not leave us orphans.
There is no reason to feel loss or wonder how to “do” Easter in our homes.
Go outside on Holy Thursday, on the night when He was taken, and look up at the full Passover moon. Jesus prayed in the light of that same moon in Gethsemane. The Israelites walked out of Egypt under it.
The Triduum is the re-enactment of our Passover. Jesus took Death onto Himself so that death might pass over us.
Learn the lesson of this Lent. Know it in full. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will be with you until the end of the world. And when you leave this life, He will welcome you home.