Tag Archives: resurrection

Confessions of a Cynical Catholic: Holy Week

Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion-WallpaperMost Catholics consider Holy Week to be the highlight of the Church year. The events commemorated are the cornerstone of our fundamental beliefs and culminate in an occasion more glorious than the coming of the Word made Flesh that we celebrate each Christmas.

Needless to say as a child, I was not a fan.

First of all, NOTHING in a child’s mind is better than Christmas! I mean, Easter is great and all but it always struck me as a watered down version of a much better holiday. If Spring Break corresponds with it, that’s a little better, but you only get one week off instead of two. There is the half day on Good Friday that public school kids didn’t get and that was kind of fun, but again…it’s like a consolation prize for a shorter break. There are fun scavenger hunts to go on and a small cache of toys involved, but then you also have to endure seven weeks of sacrifice and an entire week of Massapalooza, which centers on a rather grisly death before you even get to the Main Event. I just had a hard time looking at Easter as a “happy” time.

Don’t get me wrong, I understood that Jesus died for my sins and Lord knows my teachers liked to point out how He made this big sacrifice for our benefit, but I have to tell you…I would have been fine with a less gruesome sign of His love. However, if you are going to do something to save the world, I guess you have to go big or go home, right?

With time and maturity, my attitude toward Holy Week has mellowed considerably and I am pleased to announce that I actually enjoy it nowadays, but not to the same level my youngest son does. If you think my reactions to all things church related are unique, this kid is going to seem downright peculiar!

Vincent     I can’t remember a time when “Boy Wonder” wasn’t wacky for Holy Week….or more specifically Good Friday. From the time he was very little, I would often catch him staring at the illustration of the crucifixion in his Kids’ Bible fascinated by this particular style of Roman execution. I’m not kidding, he had that page of the book open so much, he broke the spine at its location so if you stood the book on end, it would open to that scene.

“Wouldn’t you rather look at another picture?” I asked. “There’s a really nice picture of Baby Jesus in His manger bed.” Honestly, I wasn’t trying to dissuade his interest, I was just concerned this was going to become an obsession.

“No Mommy, I like this one,” he’d say.

Although there was nothing wrong with his enthusiasm, it occurred to me that it might be misinterpreted by others who didn’t understand or were unfamiliar with the prevalent images of the crucifixion that exist in the Catholic Church. Sure enough, when he was four, I took him to a local Christian church that was having a big Christmas event including barn animals and a live nativity and afterwards the congregation invited us to stay and hear “the rest of the story.” Now, I suspected I knew where this was heading, so I took the kids into the sanctuary to watch what I correctly surmised to be a passion play.

Everything started out fine. Jesus rode in on a live donkey while people waved palm branches and sang “Joy to the World (The Lord has Come)” Side note: I really kind of thought that was a cool tie-in and would pay big bucks to see a Catholic Church sing that song on Palm Sunday for a change. The scene then shifted to the last supper, Judas’ betrayal and the trial before Pilate, who of course, sentences Jesus to death.

As the actor playing Jesus was stripped of his garments and “nailed” to the prop cross, some women sitting in front of us became so moved by the scene that they started crying. Not Boy Wonder. With his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open, he picked that moment to holler, “Check it out, Mom! They’re stringing Him up!”

Now, I don’t want to imply that he was delighted by what he was witnessing…but he was. This was his illustrated Bible, Jesus of Nazareth and every other Gospel-based movie he’d ever seen brought to life. It was dramatic. It was wrenching. It was real! I cupped my hand over his mouth to shush him, lest anyone get the wrong idea, but I’m sure there were a few people in the audience who were convinced I was raising a heathen.

“You know, you really can’t get that excited about the crucifixion,” I explained later. “People get the wrong idea.They think you actually LIKE it.”

“I do like it,” he told me. “You can’t have Easter without it.”

Astonished by his simple wisdom, I knew that I had been beat and every year, I can count on him to get giddy over Holy Week knowing he will hear his favorite Bible story on Palm Sunday, announce “Today’s the big day!” on Good Friday and ask me  if I think they actually commemorate this event in Heaven. (I’m not being sacrilegious when I say I KNOW that kid has visions of party hats, balloons and a cake that says “Happy Crucifixion, Jesus!”) He actually gets excited if the weather is gloomy on that day because he is convinced it’s God’s way of reminding everyone about His son’s sacrifice and I have to admit, more often than not, it is kind of gross and rainy on that particular day. Who knows? Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t.

They say that the worst punishment a parent can get is having a kid that acts just like them, but sometimes think the greatest gift is having those who are complete opposites, because every once in a while they teach you a thing or two with that child-like faith Jesus admired so much.

Happy Easter Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Confessions of a Cynical Catholic

April Column for MHH- An “Eggceptional” Hunt

EasterEggHunt-main_Full             Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays and I never miss a    chance to break out the baskets, color eggs and watch The Ten    Commandments (now that I am old enough to stay up for all of it.) However, few holiday activities in childhood are as much fun (or as memorable) as an Easter Egg Hunt. Over the years, I had my fair share of backyard expeditions in search of brightly colored dairy products, but none can compare to the great egg hunt of 1982 that had my cousin and I “scrambling” over the same 12 eggs for more than an hour.

When I think back on it, we had to be the two most naïve pre-teens on the planet not to catch on to what was happening around us. We were at our grandmother’s house that Easter enjoying a traditional dinner of ham, spinach salad, green beans and my mother’s famous cheese potatoes when someone decided it would be fun to hide the hard boiled eggs for us to find.

Sure we were a little old for such an activity, but we didn’t care. We trooped out to the yard to scour every bush and blade of grass that might have an egg hidden within. With each discovery, we placed the egg in our baskets and ran off in search of the next prize. It never occurred to us that one of the big kids, my cousin’s college-aged brother to be exact, was removing the eggs from our baskets and re-hiding them when we weren’t looking.

We hunted more eggs than I have colored in my whole life! We found eggs on the fire hydrant at the edge of the property. We located them up in the trees. They were in the mailbox, on the bumpers of cars, in the rose bushes, on the windowsills and on the hose reel. No matter how many eggs we found, there was always one or two more we had passed over. We found eggs two feet from where we found the last one, but we never questioned why we didn’t see it before. We never stopped to count the eggs or wonder how so few became so many, we just kept searching while everyone snickered good-naturedly behind our backs. (I have the slides to prove it.)

I don’t know how long it took us to catch on to the joke, but it seemed like forever. It wasn’t something that was planned ahead of time, but one of those magical moments that was never to be repeated.

To this day, that event represents the meaning of Easter for me. We went out in search of something exciting and what we found kept on giving and giving. Those in on the game reveled in our innocence and delighted in the joy of our discovery. And even though I am sure he never planned on teaching a spiritual lesson with his practical joke, the one responsible for the quest showed us that the mission doesn’t end when something is uncovered, but leads to a new life of revelation waiting to be renewed over and over again.

Happy Easter, everyone!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under MHH Column