Maybe I can get this right today. Maybe I can't. I think I try too hard to express how I feel and what I've been experiencing lately. Lent ended and Easter came, just like it has all these years. Only this time was different. I think I might have found my faith, yet, I'm not sure it's all back because there is still a longing, a desire to know what to do with it now. Someday, I hope I can work up the courage to find a spiritual director who can guide me through all this. I'm not sure I'm searching for more beyond learning how to pray or if I'm just looking for someone who I can talk to, who understands what I'm seeking, who will listen and not think I'm weird for wanting to grow faith. I really don't know right now.
I just realized this post was about Holy Week. The Advent Season is always beautiful. It's really nice that the church celebrates Christmas at the end of the year, when the world is at it's darkest-- probably literally as well as figuratively. Of course, Lent comes in the spring and we know it's such because the Last Supper was a traditional Seder and Passover has usually always fallen in the spring. Yet, unlike Advent, Lent is not so much a time for waiting, excitement and joy of His Birthday, but it's a time of penance, reflection and fulfillment- followed by the joy of Easter Day, after His Death. I really felt that this year.
For me this Lent wasn't about depriving myself of something, but I did give up my several times weekly trips to Starbucks for Chai, something sweet and some Internet time there. It was also a time to learn, to seek and grow. I think I did that. I made my penance, though awkwardly, but I still did it after all these years when I always declared I had no use for Confession. I guess I was wrong. It's a sacrament that I think I'll seek out again-- perhaps now I won't be so scared. Nonetheless, as I sat there, after having thought about everything I wanted to say, I went blank and muddled through it but my priest seemed to understand.
The way I felt about Confession, I kind of felt like that about Church. I have always known that God exists. I have always believed in the Catholic faith, but I never really felt like I needed it. I didn't need to go to another Church to know that it was the truth faith. I'm not going to try to convince anyone else that Catholicism is the One True Faith-- because that is between them and God. For me, it is. For my family it is. For Catholics it is. If a non-Catholic was to ask me why I felt this way, I'd sit down and try to articulate it as best as I could. However, in my years without a church, but not without God, I always knew that I could walk into any Catholic church and be at home. At a time, about 5 years ago or so, when going back to the faith and the church wasn't even a true, and real thought, I said this in an LJ post and it took me by surprise because I said this recently in a LJ Catholicism post. I suppose I've been thinking about it for a while.
I truly realized I'd come home after attending Mass on Holy Thursday and the Liturgy on was beautiful. I've never attended Mass ever on Holy Thursday that I wanted to go so badly this year. I feel like we should experience as much as we can in our lives. Even if we live to be a hundred, that's not a long time to be alive in the grand scheme of things, so we need to live each day to the fullest. We need to learn and experience all that life has to offer. From both a religious and a human perspective I had to see it for myself. I could almost take myself back to that night over 2000 years ago, the night of the last supper, the night of Christ's betrayal in the garden. (There are many questions to ponder about that night, was he truly betrayed as Judas actions were necessary for all the events to take place. Jesus knew he'd be the one to betray him.) Seeing our priest wash the feet of 12 parishioners was touching, to see him humbled as he reenacted an event that Jesus did on that night was amazing. I sat there quietly mesmerized. I think during this Mass of all Masses, a priest's role as Persona in Christ is truly experienced. But beyond that, the whole Mass was solemn, reverent and beautiful. Watching the procession to the chapel where the Body and Blood would lie in repose until the next night, was also poignant. Emotion welled up inside of me as I watched all this happen.
Sort of related, this article is about an old Spanish Nun whose travel diary influenced Holy Week liturgy and traditions. Her name was Egeria. which makes me think of the founder of the Tok'ra in the Stargate Universe.
I didn't attend the annual pilgrimage to Chimayo on Good Friday or the Saturday before with my parish. I wanted to but I worried I couldn't make the 9 or 10 miles and decided that I will work up the stamina and the courage to do it next year. The Journal wrote about it here and the New Mexican here. I felt a bit disappointed that I didn't go, it was a beautiful day, but being a bit shy and not knowing a lot of people at my parish, I also talked myself out of it a bit. It might have been a good time to meet people, but maybe not, since it was a somber time, a time for reflection and penance. There's a lovely slide show hosted on the "America" magazine website narrated by James Martin, SJ, who also wrote a lovely article about Chimayo which is here, but only if you're a subscriber to the magazine.
However, I attended to Good Friday Services at my parish. The service, also very solemn and somber, something I expected as it was Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified and died on the cross. It consisted of the Liturgy of the Word, with the Passion according to St. John acted out by the parish youth preparing for confirmation. It was moving watching these kids perform Christ's last hours in silence, while a narrator told the story. I don't think any other interpretation has touched me so much. Seriously. As always, there were intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian, Veneration of the Cross, followed by Communion.
I have always been proud of where I come from. The Catholic faith is strong here but I never realized just how strong it still ran and how much it was a part of me until now. I hope that one day I have a child(ren) to share this with.
It was a given that I'd attend that Mass and that Mass was truly beautiful. It was joyous as it should be on the day we proclaim that Christ has risen from the dead. However, Thursday and Friday affected me on a spiritual level I've never felt before and that will stay with me long after the joy of Easter has past, because I think I understand the why of it all so much clearer now.
And now I can say, He is Risen, Alleluia.