Lent, often associated with suffering and sacrifice, is more generally a period of preparation for great celebration. We seek most of all to celebrate the utter transformation of disbelief to belief and darkest fears to the greatest, most powerful hope. Given this outlook, it’s probably the best time to bear misfortunes. In my parish, several close members have lost dear loved ones. This will be a memorable Lent and a most powerful Easter.
In my own life, I was told that my ministry here for 13 years will end with the RE Year mid-May. The reasons have nothing to do with job performance, I was told. Economics are to blame. Although I will no longer be part of the staff, my daughter and I remain members of the faith community. Like Lent itself, it is a period of real transformation and change. What is the same, what is different, what is forever changed?
Passiontide to Easter Vigil
These past three weeks leading up to Passiontide, I have brought the Elect to celebrate the Scrutinies with the faithful. There, we’ve heard Jesus speak to the woman at the well, heal a blind man, and raise Lazarus from the dead. In each of these readings, Jesus speaks his word plainly. Yet those around him don’t hear or grasp completely what he is saying. He must say it again more directly for them to grasp.
My conversations with parishioners and staff have been like this. Speaking with people about a big change when suddenly I will no longer be here is quite odd. A day will come, we know the exact date, and there will be this change. At the same time, we talk to each other inside this building that represents years of faithful service and worship that precede me, and we know our mission is ever the same.
My conversations with my daughter go to the heart of it. Several years ago, she entered the Church through the Easter Vigil at this parish. Fully initiated at a time when her friends were preparing for First Communion, she experienced the Easter Triduum in all its fullness and got to “see behind the curtain” all the preparations that went into it. It also means that this year and the next, those same friends are now preparing for their own Confirmation celebration.
Bearing the Good News
When she heard the news that I would no longer be working at the parish, she said in an exasperated way, “I know there’s more than one reason to be in RE, but the main reason I went this year was so that I could see how my friends were preparing for sacraments so I could help you next year.” What should she do now?
I don’t know about next year either. Right now, I have Easter before me, a RE Year to close, and a group of Confirmation candidates to hand over to celebrate sacraments in October. All of this is predicated on the great joy of the Risen Lord! What a joy to be consumed with nothing else but that solemn duty.
Yes, I know, I need to find new employment after my last day here at the parish. True, there are issues like seeking out health care without interruption for my family. Yes, like Lazarus, I am full of life, but not yet resting in eternal life. But to know and experience this Lent now and its Easter outcome: It is a joy.
O God who counts out my days
and numbers the hairs on my head
I am yours
created in your fashion
grateful for your impression
Copyright 2019 Jay Cuasay