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He is RISEN!
Jesus knows our weaknesses, joys, and how to tend our garden.
Happy Easter! This update is coming to you a little later than usual — at this point, we’re already past the octave of Easter and well into the Easter season — but it feels really good to say that He is RISEN. He is indeed risen!
As we came into the final parts of Lent, I was able to take some time for even greater silence as we had our monthly silent retreat over Holy Thursday and Good Friday. This Lent, and through the various things that have been happening personally, spiritually, and within formation, there has really been a challenge to become little and grow in dependence on Him (as opposed to myself). This is a lifelong project, and I certainly feel like God has been calling greater attention to this recently.
One experience that I did want to share by way of a reflection is something that I experienced on Good Friday. That evening, we attended the Adoration of the Cross as part of the Great Friday liturgy in the Maronite Catholic Church. The liturgy consisted of a number of prayers and chants in English and Arabic. At one point in the liturgy, members of the community along with the priests and clergy present took down the body of Jesus from the cross, laid Him on a shroud and processed with Him around the church.
The story of Jesus being removed from the cross is something I hear every year, but I never took time to really consider what that would look like. When the priests took down Jesus’ body — the wooden corpus from the wooden cross — I wasn’t sure what to expect. But in an instant, the arms on the corpus swung down heavy to Jesus’ side, exactly the same way a real human’s arms would. Intellectually, I knew that would happen. But to witness it with my own eyes was another experience. It was surreal and really put me in the place of Mary under the cross. This was Jesus, our King, who suffered and died for me. He is entirely God, but also entirely human. He suffered as a human and died because He was human. But because He’s also God, He rose on the third day.
It’s beautiful to think of Jesus, who Mary Magdalene encountered in a garden, as undoing the first sin of Adam and Eve: tending the gardens of our hearts, knowing what it is that we need so that we can thrive. This is the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate every year on Easter. But of course, there is cause to reflect on this at every moment of our life, especially in the midst of suffering.
St. Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrews, says of Jesus: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin”.1 In His humanity, Jesus knew pain and suffering. In the midst of the difficulties and pain points that I’ve been experiencing, I know that I can bring everything to Jesus. There is no judgment and no condemnation: In Jesus, there is love and mercy and understanding.
As we walk with Easter joy in our hearts, may we always remember that in those moments where joy seems far away that Jesus is always close. He has overcome death and has risen, as He promised!
💡Some highlights from the past month (and a bit)
March was a busy month because we had our Fraternal Visit! Our Mother General and two of her councillors on the general government came from Rome to visit with all the Daughters of St. Paul houses in our province (US and Toronto). It was a really graced time, especially as a postulant, to meet Mother General and her two councillors who see the Daughters of St. Paul with a very international lens: These visitations happen every six years, and Mother General has to visit all the houses around the world in that time frame! As a community we had a really beautiful visit with them and it was a gift to be present for that.
I was able to play piano to accompany our sisters for Easter Sunday mass and one of our Easter hymns which we used in some of our Morning Prayers. It had been a while since I played for mass, and it was wonderful to serve the community in that way.
We’ve had some stretches of really nice (and really hot) weather, and we’ve been able to spend a lot of time outside and seeing a lot of birds! Recent outings included the Audobon Centre in Alton, Illinois, and the Shaw Nature Reserve in Grey Summit, Missouri.
We just came back from Kansas City, Kansas where we accompanied two of our Korean sisters on a Korean book exhibit, serving one of the Korean Catholic communities in Kansas City. It was a quick trip but a very enriching one, and I loved being with the people there: they were all so friendly!
Reading: I’m making my way through Fr. Robert Wild’s trilogy on The “Little Mandate”2 of Catherine Doherty. I'm currently on book two, Love, Love, Love. Also just started Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller, American Treasure by Richard Green — we recently watched a movie about her in community and it was SO beautiful. I highly recommend!
Listening: I recently listened to a Switched on Pop episode that featured Dan Tepfer, a classically trained pianist who specializes in jazz and improvisation. He recently came out with an album where he plays all of J. S. Bach’s Inventions, and improvised on them + creating some of his own. The episode is a really enjoyable one (though I will admit, very technically heavy) and the album “Inventions / Reinventions” has been great music to work to.
Enjoying: The beautiful weather we’ve been having and learning more about all the birds that we have here! My favourite has been the cardinals — how can you not smile at the shock of red flying through the sky?
Last but certainly not least: I wanted to thank you all for your prayers for my special intention in February. I had two of my wisdom teeth taken out, and the healing process was an adventure to be sure. Thanks be to God, all went smoothly during the procedure and things are all good now, so thank you for praying for me!
It has truly been a unique time that has its own challenges and opportunities for growth. I remember the words of encouragement from our Mother General, Sr. Anna, where she encouraged us to continue to see the opportunities that exist in the circumstances in front of us. May this be a reminder for all of us, especially in moments of difficulty!
Holding you in prayer — and please pray for me too!
In Jesus Master,