Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Unusual Holy Week, A Happy Easter, and Another Special Anniversary

It’s Not Quite the Same Without Him

This hasn’t been like other Holy Weeks.  For the first time in years, I went to Palm Sunday, the Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil without my best friend.  I definitely missed sharing this most holiest of weeks listening, singing, and praying next to him at church. 

What kept me smiling and grateful to God even when my husband couldn’t be beside me is that he genuinely wanted to be there.  I have known the whole time while observing Holy Week in all its beauty at church that he was home, not because he refused to come with me, doesn’t believe in Christ’s Resurrection, or doesn’t see the value of the Sacraments, but because he wasn’t physically well enough to be present.  I did the Readings and told him about the homilies.  He was so bummed he couldn't be there.  

Church Family and CRHP Sisters   

I sat with family at all of the Masses, service, and prayer time over the past week. Each has been beautiful, memorable, and inspiring.  The music ministry at our parish is really amazing, and our deacons and pastor gave wonderful homilies.  I loved being able to look around the church and see so many people I know and care about gathered in prayer, singing, and praising the Lord. 

I’ve been excited for one of my Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) sisters ever since I found out her husband would be coming into the Church at the Easter Vigil.  I sat with her and some other friends I know through CRHP this evening.  We all were overjoyed to see someone we’ve known and been praying for over a number of years be Confirmed and receive his First Communion. 

We cracked up when his sponsor and another mutual friend immediately asked him about joining the Knights of Columbus right after the conclusion of the vigil.  One of them even had an application on them that they handed him right then and there.  Too funny!

A Special Anniversary for Kevin (and Me)

The first time my boyfriend visited me at Hollins University was in the fall of 1999, my freshman year.  We got into a heated argument because I insisted on going to Sunday Mass even though Kevin had driven over 500 miles to spend three days with me. He had fallen away from the Church and couldn’t understand how I could “waste” any of the precious time we had together by going to Mass. 

I went anyway because, to me, Mass on Sunday has never been an optional activity.  For me, it’s a blessing, an obligation, and a privilege.  I left for church not knowing if Kevin would leave me forever.  He didn’t. 

In fact, it was that evening when I returned that Kevin and I sat down and created a menu for our relationship.  After brainstorming a list of the most important things we want our relationship to be, Kevin noticed that if we rearranged the words they would spell out: LAUGHING TOGETHER.  To read some entries in my Laughing Together Series, click here.

The very next spring, Kevin came down to spend Holy Week with me, though he had been warned that I would be observing the holiest time of the year by going to the Foot Washing on Holy Thursday, the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil Saturday night, as well as Easter Mass on Sunday afternoon since I was a Confirmation sponsor for someone in our Catholic Campus Ministry. 

I witnessed a true miracle happen before my very eyes (and those of several credible witnesses): Kevin not only attended, but also fully participated in the Easter Triduum plus. 

That was a definite turning point.  Kevin said the Triduum helped him to understand the faith. He took part in the Sacraments, listened to a number of Scripture readings, responsorial Psalms, and participated by praying the prayers included in the Mass. 

After finding out Kevin had driven over 500 miles down from upstate New York to spend four days attending church with me, Fr. Remi Sojka, the priest who served our Catholic Campus Ministry, very aptly named Kevin “the patron saint of boyfriends.”

God Turns Another of My NEVERs into Something Much Better

Of course, I wished Kevin was well enough to join me this week, but I know what a tremendous blessing it is that for the past 15 years, ever since he came with me to his first Easter Triduum, he has had a better understanding of and a very deep appreciation for Christ's ultimate sacrifice and how we uphold the sanctity of His work through the Sacraments. 

Just one more thing I thought would NEVER happen that God turned into something BETTER than either of us could have imagined.  
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