As the world began to respond to the seriousness of the pandemic spread of COVID19, I realized that I started distancing myself from Lent and my Lenten practices. After all, if everything else was being cancelled or postponed, then maybe Lent was too. Our Churches are closed, Mass is only available via online streaming, Sacraments are unavailable indefinitely, in so many ways it seems like life has been put on hold. During a time when life is very uncertain, what can be our response? What is certain?
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak with my spiritual director and ask him where we were spiritually, specifically in this season of Lent. Is Lent still a thing, will there still be an Easter? He pointed me towards the Gospels, encouraging me to particularly focus on Mary Magdalene and the first Holy Saturday.
During the time of Christ, the Jews had what’s called “preparation day” to prepare for the feast or Sabbath day that was approaching. They used this preparation time to make themselves and their homes ready so that when the high feast came they could be present and rest in the fullness of the celebrated feast. As Christians, we’ve grown from these Jewish traditions and see the deep value in preparation so that our heart’s can be more open and ready to receive. Easter for us Christians is the highest liturgical celebration and in turn Holy Saturday becomes our “preparation day,” to look inward and make those final preparations to render our hearts, in whatever state or season its in, more completely Christ’s. What if we allow the rest of this season of Lent (the short 2 weeks we have left), to be a means of uniting our own fear, uncertainty, and isolation with that of Mary Magdalene. Imagine, she was there at Christ’s death, her heart was broken, scared, sorrowful. The following day, (the Jewish Sabbath), must have been a day of uncertainty, quiet, reflection, confusion, and questions. So many feelings that we, as a Church, as a nation, as a community, are experiencing right now.
However, that Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene went to the Tomb, she didn’t know what she would find. She simply wanted to be close to Jesus. The Gospel passage says,
“Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20: 1:3)
Mary’s heart was sorrowful, lonely for the Lord. In her uncertainty and fear she went to the tomb to find him. She went to be close to the Crucified Christ and in her searching, she found herself face to face with the Risen Lord.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you see?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)” (John 20:15-17)
In a time that is filled with so much uncertainty and confusion, my encouragement is to cling all the more to this Lenten time. Let this time be like that first Holy Saturday-a time of preparation, a time of reflection and a time of longing for the Lord. Remember what your motivations for your Lenten practices were and ask the Lord how He wants you to renew those practices. For some of us, it may be an invitation to re-implement those Lenten observances just as they were before being upset by COVID19. For others, it may mean re-evaluating those Lenten plans and realizing its okay to adjust them and let some go. Whatever it might be, allow the transformation of Lent to continue leading you towards the Cross and ultimately the Lord’s Resurrection.
Lent is happening and Easter is coming.
Let this be a time of renewal. Bring all your fears, worries, and uncertainties to the Lord this season. Rest in the quiet, reflect. Many feelings we are experiencing right now are the same feelings that Mary Magdalene and the apostles felt that first Easter morning, yet they ran to the Tomb, seeking the crucified Christ and instead met the Risen Lord.
Let this time of Lent, no matter how long or short, continue to be a time of preparation which will lead our hearts to a deeper rest and peace in the one who is Love. Run like Mary Magdalene to the Tomb and find there the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Hailing from Maryland, she doesn’t know a whole lot about crab and lobster, but she definitely does know a thing or two about coffee.Appreciator of road trips, hammocks, and all things
doused in Valentina. Bridget is a former NET missionary
with a heart for ministry and a strong devotion to
St. Gianna Molla!