Womb to Tomb: Celebrating Pascha 2016

This year, we are commemorating the day of Christ’s death on the same day that we commemorate his birth. A little weird, but wonderful – and not accidental. First, a little history… then Mystery…

Origin of “Easter”

English speakers use the word “Easter” in reference to the Most Holy Day in Christianity. Most other languages, however, use words rooted in the Hebrew word for Passover, “pesach”, as the ancient Christians used the Greek word, “pascha” for the Holy Triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and the Solemnity of Our Lord’s Resurrection[1]. We are celebrating the Paschal Mystery, after all! This is Christ’s “passing over”; he is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed for us – and risen to glory. The friends and familial loved ones of Jesus celebrated his Resurrection on every Sunday and, as the number of disciples of Jesus grew (and grows) this tradition continues. Within the first two centuries, however, Christians began wanting to celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection with especially great festivity and joy once each year. So, the question became, On what date should we celebrate the Pascha?

Calendar Calculations

The key, ancient Christian scholars and leaders believed, was in determining the original date on which Jesus died. Although you might think this would be easy because of the biblical accounts… well, it wasn’t. Finding equivalents in the different solar calendars that Christians used for the days of Nisan in the ancient Jewish lunar calendar, was, let’s just say challenging. (For more on the history, see footnotes[2].) Anyway, in the course of these calculations, ancient Christians also sought to determine dates for celebrating Christ’s birth and conception, and other holy days, always keeping the Pascha as the base, the heart.

Incarnation and Sacrifice

Eastern Christian calculations came up with a date for when Jesus died upon the cross, a date equivalent to April 6, while Western calculations determined that Jesus died on the date equivalent to March 25. In choosing times to commemorate other Mysteries of Christ’s life, including Christmas, ancient Christians, both East and West, seemed to want to give a roundness, or fullness, to his life[3], and, so, chose the day of his conception in his virgin mother’s womb to coincide with the day of his death and burial in a tomb. Beautiful.

Truth and Beauty

We humans have a tendency to get caught up in technical details, calculations, charts, even dates themselves. Scholarly debates still abound on the history of date choosing and calculated dates still differ. But, Jesus did not die upon a cross for the glory of our digital ruminations. He died so that his blood, shed in divine love and mercy, could wash us clean of our sins – and that is something that we are not going to grasp with the math portion of our brains. Jesus came, Jesus comes, to reach the unique and transcendent connections of our minds, to speak to our hearts.

The “calendar date” is not what’s important. What’s important, what’s of earthshaking and ego-shattering importance, is that Christ Jesus is God Incarnate, that he was (is) truly human and truly divine, and that he died for love of us – and rose from the dead so that death will never be the end for any human being. This is why the name of Jesus is above all other names, this is why true Christians willingly sacrifice out of love for God and neighbor, this is why we are a people of hope and joy.

Yet, the dates in the Liturgical Calendar are not without rich significance. The Church lays out the Holy Days for our hearts and minds, so that, throughout the months and seasons, we may enter into the Mysteries of Christ and live intimately with him all year. There is truth in the content of the Holy Days and beauty in the context of their timing. Saint Augustine expresses this reality exquisitely:

For He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which He was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which He was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before nor since.[4]

Ponder This

Beautiful timing is befalling us this year and it is something highly worth reflecting upon …. In the Year of Our Lord 2016, we are called to commemorate both when Christ died and when Christ was conceived on the very same day!

Yes, the Annunciation coincides with Good Friday this year, as ancient Christians in the West believed that it should. Mark it and marvel. The thought gives me a beautiful sense of awe. And that sense deepens when I look upon my local church’s statues of both the Blessed Mother and Jesus on the Cross covered over for Passiontide, wrapped in veils, hidden from our eyes… Mary conceived Jesus as she was overshadowed, covered over, by the Power of the Most High… and, when her son, the Son of God, died on the cross, darkness covered the sky and his body was enshrouded and sealed in a tomb… waiting for revelation to the world…

I gaze upon the veiled statue and I can almost see Mary’s belly pulse and ripple beneath the purple cloth …

veiled Mary copyright

And as I gaze upon the veiled crucifix, I can almost see Christ, wrapped in his burial shroud, the cloth starting to move as his chest suddenly rises with the returned breath of life…

 veiled Jesus copyright

Awaiting the revelation of what is hidden from our sight, we mourn, we hope, we celebrate…

Happy Pascha!

 

© 2016 Christina Chase

Photo credit: Dan Chase, inside St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Suncook, NH


[1] See Religion Facts: Easter

[2] the calendar used by Jews in the first century was lunar, with an extra month thrown in once in a while by the will of the Sanhedrin to keep it in line with the natural seasons. Christians used solar calendars, but there were many different calendars, with different months and dates. See: Catholic Encyclopedia: Easter

[3] in-depth exploration of “integral age” of Prophets with a Jewish source here at National Catholic Register ; Also see : William Tighe’s article   Passover to Easter and Calculating Christmas

[4] Saint Augustine. See: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf103.iv.i.vi.vi.html

Obedience Is Nothing without Love

One question that I asked as a nonbeliever and that I still quietly wonder about as a believer is this: when Jesus rose from the dead, why did he only show himself to the people that were already his disciples? If the resurrection is proof of Jesus as the Christ and Savior of the World, then it seems only natural to wish that Jesus would give that proof to more people, so that the whole world might be Christian. It seems like, instead, he rather preached to the choir.

Yet, I feel a bit guilty carry this doubting question around with me.

I shouldn’t.

Turns out that I’m not the first one to ask the question – no big surprise there. The surprise for me, however, came when I learned who it was that asked the question first – and to whom it was asked. (Some of you may already know the “who” and “whom” of which I speak, but, please remember, with mercy and forgiveness, that I am not an accomplished reader of the Bible.) One of Jesus’s own disciples asked it to Jesus himself. And on hearing and understanding the answer given to the one asked, I was washed in a well-contented sense of rightness and joy.

It happened when I was watching a movie. Of course, it was not just any old mindlessly entertaining movie, but rather one of those new “Christian Faith” movies – The Gospel of John. Although I have probably heard or read all of the words spoken by the narrator before, the words of the Gospel struck my ear and my mind in a new way – and, thankfully, penetrated into my heart. The scene of the Last Supper came on the screen and the words of the Discourse came through the speakers. Jesus was saying that he would reveal and show himself to those whom he loved.[1] And then one of his very own apostles asked Jesus, face-to-face, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Good question.

Jesus didn’t rebuke the apostle in the slightest, but willingly gave answer and, of course, said it all:

“He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

Give yourself a moment to take that in. When first hearing them in the narrator’s voice, the words caught in my mind and then needed to be processed further, like a fish that is caught up in a net and then needs to be pulled onto the boat.

You see, Jesus only showed himself to the people who loved him because showing himself – even himself all resurrected and glorified – to people who didn’t love him would have made no difference. They may have been like spectators of David Blaine magic, flabbergasted and admiring, but merely exclaiming “Cool trick, man!” Rather, he showed himself to those who loved him because he promised that he would. They were grieving and mourning his death – and he came back to them. Although Simon Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times before the Crucifixion, after the Resurrection Jesus gave him a second chance to be true to what was in his heart. “Peter, do you love me?” And every time that Peter affirmed his love for him, Jesus gave reminding command to follow his teachings.[2]

The profound beauty and joy here is that Jesus is telling us the same thing now: Jesus reveals himself to people who love him, because the people who don’t love him will not obey his teaching – even if he showed himself to them, they wouldn’t care. What Jesus knows, and what we should all know, is that in order to be able to follow Jesus Christ and obey his teachings, a person must love him.

Without love for Christ, there is no Christianity.

As believing Christians, we want Christianity to be better respected and more embraced by the world. We naturally want more people to attend church, near and far. We would like to see pews full of people reciting the Creed aloud with us and identifying themselves as Christians. We would like them to obey the teachings of Christ and live good, Christian lives. But… in order to do any of this, people must first love Christ.

Christ himself said that, unless they love him, people will not obey him. It is only people who truly love Christ that are freely willing to obey him – because to do so is a natural expression and substance of that love. We can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t expect people to reach for the high ethics and ideals of Catholic Christianity without love for Christ himself. I can’t expect myself to do this.

So… in my heart I am asking, “But, Lord, where are you that I may love you?”

I am hungry and need to be fed… I am homeless and need to be sheltered… I am ill and suffering and need to be cared for… I am homebound, and I am stuck in a nursing home, and I need to be visited… I am in prison and I need to be loved… I am a stranger and I need to be welcomed…[3]

I do not have to look far to find Christ here with me, in the flesh and blood of my fellow human beings. My family member is angry or sad – do I love? My friend is burdened – do I love? My neighbor is in great need – do I love? If I love the least of the people around me, then I love Christ. And if I love Christ, then I love the least of the people around me. It’s a profound circle that only has its beginning and end in God – for we can only love because God first loved us.[4] When we are open to divine love and give ourselves to that love, then Christ more fully reveals himself to us, and our love deepens and grows evermore.

One other question:

As we are supposed to evangelize, how are we to teach others to love Christ?  

Everybody who truly loves goodness and truth is already in love with who Christ is – whether they know it or not. The best way that we can teach others about Christ himself – and, perhaps, the only true way that we can really teach them – is by sharing our love for him with them. We love Christ Jesus in all that he is and in all that he has done for us. If others see the deep sense of joy and peace that comes from our love for Christ, love that is manifested in our love for neighbor, then they will come to know him through our love and, in knowing him, they will love him, too. And when they love him, they will want to follow him. They will obey his teachings – not out of superstition or blind adherence to rules, but out of love – and he will reveal himself to them more and more.

© 2015 Christina Chase


[1] John 14:15-24

[2] John 21:15-17

[3] Matthew 25

[4] 1 John 4:19

Descended to the Dead

underwater

Have you ever submerged yourself under water, like a lake or a pool, and gone down, down, down? The light, if visible, is far-off and distorted, while all around you, enshrouding you, is a seductive, numbing kind of darkness. There’s an oblivious kind of quiet down there and you would stay below. But, within you is the instinct to rise.

You are made to rise – from the pool, the grudge, the self-pity, the addiction…. You are made to rise up, to see clearly, to breathe freely – you are made for the Light.

But, what if your ability to rise is deadened by self-abuse – by sin? Then, all that is good within you will drown. And your soul will die. It is for this reason that Jesus sacrificed himself on the Cross – he descended to the dead so that he may always be with you, so that he may always be with you even in the deepest, darkest abyss. Christ Jesus is there and stretches out his hand, and parts the drowning waters. You need only to reach out for his mercy and he will take hold of you – and raise you up to the land of the living, to the Light.

© 2015 Christina Chase

This concludes a trio of short reflections for the Paschal Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Blessed and Joyous Easter, everyone!

First Friday and the Will of St. Francis

In a shadowy recess of the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, I caught sight of a dimly lit bas-relief and felt myself drawn to it… and even changed by it.

Before I get to that, shortly – below the carving is a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi taking the body of Jesus off of the Cross. Of course, it is historically inaccurate. But, great art depicts the truth within and beyond facts. The artwork is meant to convey the love and life of Francis, who was so utterly devoted to God-Incarnate suffering in this world that he even developed the Stigmata, signs of Christ’s wounds on his own body. Francis’s arms are therefore shown to be encircling the body of Christ as he is ready to lift up his beloved Savior and catch him in embrace.

St. Francis Jesus Cross Ste. Anne de Beaupré

Francis is on tippytoe in his innocent eagerness, gazing upward in adoration, his hand curved and held in gentle wonder.

And I ask myself: do I want to embrace Christ this much?

Am I eager to carry the weight of his beaten and bloody body? Do I hold him in wonder and affection close to my heart? I wasn’t there when they crucified my Lord, but I am here, now, when the dying are crying out in pain and loneliness, and the abused are losing hope that anyone will carry them to safety. Is my heart suffering with theirs in true compassion, ready to do whatever I can to help – not to hesitate, but to give generously in love? Whatever I do for the least, I do for Christ.

As I wrote in the beginning of this post, it was the bas-relief above the statue that most deeply moved me. I had to look up at it a long while before I could discern the figures and details. While realizing what I was seeing, I felt the cords of my heart being so sweetly touched that the exquisite song of joy spread all through me. Below is the image, the image which I am taking as my Faith Facilitator for this First Friday:

St. Francis bas-relief Ste. Anne de Beaupré

At first, I saw Jesus with his arms open wide, crucified. And Francis, in front of Jesus like a child, held his arms open wide in imitation, looking back and up at his Savior as though asking, “Like this?” Christ, the patient teacher, and Francis, the willing student. But, then… I saw that there were wings depicted behind Jesus, signifying Christ Resurrected, Christ Glorified and Ascended in Paradise. And I knew that Christ Jesus was teaching his beloved child… with open arms, a living Cross… how to fly….

Prayer:

Oh, my Lord and my God,

teach me to be little,

your little child,

so that I may grow big and strong like you.

Amen.

[This is part of the First Friday Faith Facilitator series, for the month of November 2014.]

© 2014 Christina Chase

My Particular Body and My Peculiar Soul – My Immortality

The soul is what animates the body, bringing it to life – and my soul, as a human being, is the breath of God.[1] If my soul is of God, is of spirit, then it has no beginning and no end. Eternal. Immortal. For spirit cannot be reduced to parts.[2] Spirit is not finite. However, I can neither say that I, as the human person that I am, had no beginning nor that I am infinite. This is because I am of flesh and spirit, body and soul united as one human person. My spiritual soul animates my material body – and my material body affects my spiritual soul.

What makes my soul my soul?

In contemplating the human body this month, thoughts have come to me that, although the gifts of intellect, memory/imagination, and freewill are “products”, if you will, of my spiritual soul, they only take on unique qualities peculiar to me through my bodily living.

I’m thinking that, maybe, it’s kind of like this: imagine Spirit (that which is nonmaterial, infinite, eternal, divine) as an endless substance that is absolutely everywhere. When I, as an individual member of the Homo sapiens species, first came into being (at the moment of my conception, when the genetic material from my mother and my father combined and began to live, cells multiplying, a singular organism developing and growing) I was immediately a combination of matter and spirit, a unique human person. My body was in zygotic, and later embryonic, then fetal, infantile, juvenile, adolescent, and adult, form and, no matter where my body was or is in geographical location, spirit animates my body.

God, who is Spirit Itself, does not change with the changes of my body – for God is immutable. But, somehow, someway, through the mysterious workings of God, the spirit that animates my body is affected by the life that I live through my body. My intellect is informed through my body and my freewill acts through my body and, mysteriously, my bodily experiences and choices give a unique kind of energy to the spirit that brings me to life: my soul.

The Afterlife

This affected kind of energy is not infinite like spirit, but rather finite, like flesh – that is, it is not always and everywhere. But, because this unique impression, coloring, flavor, or imprinted energy, if you will, is upon spirit, grounded in spirit, it will not die. When the body dies (and the body, being of matter, must die) this particular “shade” of spirit, my soul, will continue to live eternally. (What choices I make will determine how that eternal life is lived… but, more on that later.) As a Christian, I believe that, by the power, grace, and mercy of God, my soul will be allowed to reanimate my body in the Resurrection at the End of Days, through Christ my Savior – though it will no longer be my body as it is now, living materially on earth, but, rather, my body glorified… given immortality in the New Heavens and the New Earth, in the life of the world to come. A profound Mystery.

Well, these are my thoughts, anyway, rather roughly laid out. But, I wanted to share them, hoping that others may have further and/or better insight that they will share with me as I continue to explore. What do you think?

© 2014 Christina Chase

[1] Genesis 2:7

[2] as taught by St. Thomas Aquinas

The Assumption and Every Body

Assumption, Virgin Mary, wheelchair

Imagine that we’re sitting together in a cemetery …

2008-07-21_Old_Chapel_Hill_Cemetery_2

I’ve had difficulty with the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – just as I’ve had difficulty with the entire idea of the “resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come”. After taking the leap of faith in becoming a Christian, I decided it was best not to tackle every difficult dogma as soon as possible, but to… well, have faith and consider each in good time. One day, as an assignment for an online theology course on Mary, I was asked to imagine teaching the dogma to a class. In doing so, I found myself seriously thinking about the glorified body of Jesus Resurrected and about the eternal destinies of every human person, starting with Mary, our mother in Christ. The vital importance of the Assumption then struck me and I saw it – and myself – in a whole new light. As we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption, allow me take you with me on this journey of discovery…

Imagine that we’re sitting together in a cemetery, on the grass amid the gravestones. Perhaps this is where your grandparents are buried, or your parents, or sibling, a friend, a spouse, or your own child. As in most cemeteries, all of the bodies buried here are facing toward the east, which is the direction of the rising sun and the new day, in anticipation of the General Resurrection at the end of days. Their mortal remains have been buried here by their loved ones, with reverent prayers, in hopes that they will see them again, resurrected, soul and glorified body reunited, in the eternity of Heaven.

Where is Jesus buried?

Of course, the body of Jesus Christ is not buried anywhere, because he rose from the dead, his body glorified, and ascended into Heaven. But, the deceased bodies of holy Christian men and women, the simple and unremembered on earth as well as the great Saints, are buried in tombs and cemeteries all over the world. We can even go visit their graves or revere their relics.

 

Tomb of St. Peter

Tomb of St. Peter

Tomb of St. Paul

Tomb of St. Paul

 

Even the mortal remains of the Saints are lying in wait for the Resurrection, like the remains of the people buried here beneath this green lawn.

But…

Where is the Blessed Virgin Mary buried?

If you can’t think of the answer to that question is because there is no “where”. This is the very definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “… the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This belief was held by early Christians, both East and West. In the Eastern traditions of the Catholic Church, the “Dormition” of Mary has been officially celebrated with a Holy Day on August 15 for nearly 1400 years. Because of this deeply rooted tenet of faith, as is written in the document Defining the Dogma of the Assumption, “… the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people…”. There is no grave, known or unknown, no tomb, no reliquary, where the mortal remains of the Blessed Virgin lie because nothing mortal of the Blessed Virgin remains.

What makes Mary so different?

If Jesus Christ is God-made-Man, then it is absolutely appropriate that he rose bodily from the dead, his body glorified, and then ascended into heavenly glory. Christ is fully human, sharing our human nature – but he is also fully divine, beng God Incarnate, after all. But, by believing that Christ’s mother was assumed bodily into Heaven, what are we saying about her? Mary isn’t God. She’s a human person like us, born of both a human mother and a human father, with no divine nature at all. Why aren’t her earthly remains lying somewhere, like those beneath us in the cemetery, like those of the other saints, awaiting the end of days and the General Resurrection?

By virtue of her being Christ’s own mother – the Mother of God – God gave the Blessed Virgin Mary special graces and privileges from the instant of her creation (Immaculate Conception) through the natural end of her earthly life. She who gave herself completely to divine will, saying to the angel of God, “Let it be done to me according to your word,” conceived, carried, birthed, and nursed the body of Our Lord. From her human flesh, God’s Word was made flesh and, therefore, she was granted the privilege of not suffering any decomposition of the flesh or corruption of the tomb. In other words, she didn’t have to wait until the end of days for “the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come”. This is her unique and holy privilege, by the grace of God.

The Assumption for Us

Imagine what it was like when Mary’s earthly life came to a close, the time of her “Dormition”, as the Eastern Churches call it. When the Assumption actually took place, I imagine that it was a very intimate event, private, loving, between a mother and a son. This aged woman, the beloved mother of our Savior, closed her earthly eyes for the last time and, by the tender grace of God, opened her glorified sight to eternity, her much loved body and soul intact in precious union.

Over the centuries, the reality of the Assumption has become for us, more and more, a tremendous hope and crucial reminder. She who is a human person, now shares bodily in the divine life for all eternity. This is the salvation and glory that is offered to each and every one of us through Christ our Lord. Mary, the Mother of all the living in Christ, went before us – and we hope to follow at the end of time. That is the hope that this cemetery, and every grave, encloses.

trebon-virgin-mary

God Loves What He Has Created

The Assumption was declared Dogma in 1950, putting an official stamp and explanation on what Christians have believed for centuries. We may wonder why it took so long for the declaration to be made – but, we know that all things happen in God’s time. The proclamation came forth just after World War II, a terrible period of history when millions of human beings were systematically murdered, having been stripped and gassed, their dead bodies heaped in piles like cordwood. The graphic images of this massacre and desecration horrified the world – and the Catholic Church took action. With the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Universal Church, founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, gave us a powerful reminder of the dignity and destiny of the human person – body and soul.

Our bodies are sacred, not like some kind of prison from which the soul has to escape, and not like some meaningless shell that we can do with as we wish. We are creatures of both flesh and spirit – body and soul as one person – and we believe that our souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies at the end of time. Therefore, it is right and just to respect human bodies. God loves what He has created. The human body is created by God and is not to be profaned, mutilated, abused, murdered, or desecrated in any way – for every human being is loved by God and destined for perfection, body and soul, in heavenly glory.

The Power of the Assumption Lived

As we continue our journey, imagine with me that we are now at an adult daycare facility. In such places as these we see, indeed, that human beings come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of physical and mental abilities. Whether impaired in cognition, slowed and drooling, or aged and decrepit, everybody is a human being. And if we are truly going to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption, then we must remember that everybody, every body, is beautiful in the eyes of God, Who sees our heavenly glory….

What would happen if we saw each other that way? What if we truly remember that each human creature we encounter, whether mentally disabled or physically deformed, is exquisitely beautiful in the eyes of God? If we could see the heavenly glory that God intends for each one of them – for each one of us – we would be blown away by the intense radiance of that beauty, the eternal destiny of every human being redeemed and resurrected by the power of God’s love. And then maybe, just maybe, we would love one another as God loves us, with respect, forgiveness, affection, and generosity, seeing ourselves and our fellow human beings as God sees us and hopes for us.

© 2014 Christina Chase

May

In the month of May, we honor motherhood – and the dead of war.

All over the earth, mothers watch their sons go off to war every day. The baby she once cradled in her arms, lovingly, tenderly keeping him from all of the world’s harms – a soldier now, battle ready, double-edged sword in hand. Hundreds… Thousands… Millions of boys become men ground up by the machinery of war; the blood of beloved sons spilled out, saturating field and forest or mingling with the salty tears of fathomless seas. What gain can be had by so great a cost? What treasure could entice a woman to offer as potential sacrifice a child whom she has raised and loved?

On battlefields and disputed fronts, in gunfights, bombings, and hand-to-hand combat, the cries and gory wounds of war march on… for country! And more deeply… for faraway home… for brothers in arms beside them… and mourning mothers kneel upon the mossing graves, a clutch of flowers in aging hands pressed against the stones.

This Spring, the Earth unfurls her verdant green banners and swells with the peaceful rush of life. This is the time of bright trumpeting daffodils and of violets… and also of forget-me-nots, and tulips reaching up from the ground like offered prayers. The lilies of the valley, demurely bowing their heads, white veiled, emit their sweet and heavy fragrance from the quiet of their leafy grottoes. And the robins redbreast are warming their nests of promised chicks in appletrees thick with blooms, undeterred by frost or storm… until, one day, in the month of May, the sky cloaked eggs will open and reveal new life being born.

Not so long ago, in pasturelands of deep country, farming families would gather at the crossroads to pray the rosary in the cool, clear of a May evening.

crossroads cross

St-Venant-de-Paquette, QC, Canada

In May, for our ancestors knew that the Queen of Heaven sits upon her mossy throne, bedecked with buttercups and bluets, with wild strawberry blossoms at her feet and purple lilacs at her shoulders. Her head is bowed, white veiled, and her cupped hands, like a chalice of petal flesh, catch the tears that are spilling out from her violet eyes and down her cheeks of new roses.

DSCN6716

La Grotte, East-Hereford, QC, Canada

She, too, has watched her son go off to war, like a lamb sent among wolves.

He laid bare the mighty enemy with the spiritual swiftness of his sword, but his brothers went astray and left him to the cruelty of men, to be tortured and humiliated. She saw her beloved son put to death before her eyes and her tears, her agony, could not end the madness, could not save him from the pain, could not spare him the grave. But… the stone that had marked the place where his lifeless body was laid to rest did not green over with the coming spring. The grave did not keep his mortal remains, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, for the life of her son is purely divine – and he did rise. And in rising to eternal life he raises dead sons and daughters, saving all with souls of faith, who valued others more than self.

The Mother of God saw her son, meek and humble and strong, go off to war and, though painfully grieved, did not begrudge the sacrifice – for the treasure won by his blood is the kingdom that has no end, not just for herself and him, but for every person of hope. The Kingdom where love is true armor, love the lance, love the way, love the victory without violence, the glory without gore, the eternal summer, the eternal spring. And, now, every day of firefight and weeping, every day of cold, barren darkness, every day of Renewing Life pushing up tender shoots, of flowers yielding to luscious fruits – every day is a memorial.

 © 2014 Christina Chase

with edits © 2016  Christina Chase


Photo credit: © 2014 Dan Chase