It's mid afternoon on Good Friday. The weather is fitting, as it always seems to be - overcast with the threat of rain. The house is quiet. Sugarbeet is napping and R is at the Good Friday service at our parish.
I'm going to pray the Stations of the Cross when I'm finished here.
This Lent and Holy Week have not felt very "Lent-y" or "Holy Week-y". In reflecting on Lent earlier this week, I do think it was more fruitful than I initially thought. And Holy Week will be too, I think.
I had intended to return to reading The Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas for my Lenten practice. As much as I complained about it during my graduate classes, I miss it. While it stretches and challenges my brain, the way it nourished and deepened my faith - both the head and heart aspects of it - is something I missed. I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to have the 'ah-ha' moment of being able to read The Summa because I wanted to and not because I was in a class requiring it.
I have The Summa downloaded onto my Kindle, but due to a recent move, said Kindle was not located until last week. Add that in with sheer exhaustion -- mentally and physically -- from the schedule of moving and caring for my Nan and it just didn't happen.
What did happen though were weekly Wednesday nights and Thursdays spent with my Nan and twice a month weekends. Times when I was stretched outside of myself. When what *I* wanted to do was the last thing that could or should happen.
Instead, I learned (a little, I hope) what it means to see Christ in another when that other is being less than kind to you; what it means to be Christ to another with no expectation of anything in return. I learned to die to myself as I knew the only things she would truly remember and share with others were my failings. The things I did right would go most often unacknowledged and nearly always unremembered.
I spent hours in the car with tears streaming down my cheeks as I reflected on how I failed her, and daily praying for the strength and knowledge and self-control to think before I spoke or acted.
I do not think it is any coincidence that she moved to her new apartment on Tuesday of Holy Week.
And then, goodness, someday maybe I will learn to check my pride, she was moved in and I thought to myself "oh good, now I can really enter into the Triduum and reflect upon the Paschal mystery."
We made our schedule - Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper followed up with 4 stops at other parishes for prayer at Altars of Repose; Good Friday service in the afternoon and Tenebrae in the evening; Saturday Evening Vigil Mass; and Mass on Easter Sunday.
For a moment I considered Sugarbeet and thought to myself 'she is starting to be more active and vocal at Mass, is this a good idea?' But I thought, oh, she usually nurses and falls asleep, and the services around bedtime will be perfect for that.
And so last night, we headed off. She chattered during the songs, made friends with all the people around us, and settled in to nurse during the homily as is her routine. I thought 'oh good, she'll fall asleep and won't wake up until we put her in her PJs at home'. And then, her eyes popped open and she sat up, smiled at me from ear to ear and I knew there would be no sleeping. We stayed in our pew until just before Communion. Then, I knew with the transfer of the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose a sacred silence would be requested, and silence in leaving, and so we headed to the back where we could watch through the glass doors. We made it until the procession went past us and then headed outside to avoid any accidental squeals during the time of silence.
And that was when the tears started and I realized how selfish I had been. *I* wanted to make up for what I'd perceived as a failed Lent with a 'perfect' Triduum. And for 2 adults, it was a perfect schedule. Heck, for Sugarbeet's 'usual' it was a perfect schedule. But it did not take into consideration that she is no longer 3 months old and sleeps through anything; that she is becoming more and more social and alert and interested in everything around her. And I knew to my very bones that we should have stayed home.
Yes, children belong at church. Yes, for weekly Sunday Mass, the squeals and giggles that happen are part of what it means to belong to a Parish Community. But, in my opinion and for my family, the Sacred Silence that is part of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil should be respected by all present. And so, this afternoon, Sugarbeet and I are home.
If she took a bottle (that's another post), she would be home with a sitter.
(And just in case anyone is wondering, if you decide differently and have a crying or giggling baby at Mass this week, please know I support you in that decision as well. I think absolutes as it relates to children at Mass are dangerous and only serve to discourage families from coming and participating and I do not intend that. This is just what we decided is best for us.)
And so, Lent and Holy Week have looked and will look very different this year. Yet, one thing will be the same - the story doesn't change. We know the ending and that is where I find my peace and comfort this year. In allowing myself to rest in the knowledge that we know death has no victory and on Sunday morning, the tomb will be empty, the bells will ring, and Sugarbeet can squeal and giggle and jabber all she wants as we celebrate Christ's victory over death.
For now, the silence of my home. Stations of the Cross prayed in private. And the knowledge of the full story will be enough for me to enter into this most sacred of days.
A Blessed Triduum to you, friends.