We can scarcely recognize our life now, shocked at the quick loss of life as we knew it. “Sheltering in place”, we have lost all our markers of what’s important, what’s significant, and what fills our calendars. We have lost our distractions, all the outside pursuits that promised escape from the deeper questions of Who am I? Where am I going? And worse, we are separated from people we love, play with, collaborate with or pray with. We were not prepared for such “enforced” solitude and contemplative space!
And in the midst of these life changes, we are now facing a strange religious reality that we could never have imagined—NO Holy Week liturgies, no gathering in the sobering silence and mystery of walking those last days of Jesus’ life together, hearing the readings in hushed churches and chapels, singing the sacred songs and receiving the Holy Eucharist. As I listened to someone today, during “spiritual direction by phone”, describe her sadness at the prospect of a stripped-bare Holy Week, I felt I heard God suggesting that this would be the best Holy Week ever!! (What????)
Remember that phone commercial “Can you hear me NOW?” I could hear God saying: “You know, this will be the deepest Holy Week you’ve ever had! All those other years you had many outside ‘props’ that caught your attention and held it. Like in school, younger grades had to use more visual aids, more externals to grab restless young learners and keep them tuned in. But, my Child, you can walk with Jesus with nothing but your locked-on heart! This year you will do Holy Week on the INSIDE.
It will be a far deeper walk…. with the focus on Jesus alone, and your eager discipleship will quietly accompany Him through each event. Alone you will see Him, alone you will love Him, alone you will be at His side every step of the way. And as you walk side by side, He will be saying to you, “Can you hear me now?”
Holy Thursday, after the meal, walking alone with his heavy heart to Gethsemane, again He whispers, “Can you hear me NOW?” Good Friday morning, the humiliating questioning, the torturous scourging… “Can you hear me…now?” At the cross, beside the faithful women and His grieving mother, you cry: “Yes, Lord…I do hear you now!”
If I have walked the deep INNER journey with Him, kept vigil with Him in my own solitude and stripped-down surroundings, I will have embraced a MOST holy week. And when the new life miraculously bursts forth, He will look to me by His side and say, ‘Surely, you do hear me now!’ The challenge before me is simply to enter into the Divine Presence within, into my deepest Soul, where no signs or symbols are necessary; where Easter grace, with blinding light and holiness, will fill every corner where His life breaks forth!