ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience” –Emily Dickinson

An Easter Reflection by Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH 

A missing plane from Malaysia, a mudslide in the state of Washington, countless Syrian refugee children, school violence…sometimes our soul and the season seem out of sync.

Yet the tomb is empty.

Jesus' Tomb empty2When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we catch a glimpse of resurrection.  Resurrection joy is not simply the joy of satisfaction that follows a productive day, or happiness in scoring well on an exam.  Resurrection joy is experienced when our hearts are drawn to God.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, faith may not change the story, but it may change the way we see the story, and that in itself can make all the difference.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, our attention is focused outside and beyond ourselves and lifts our hearts so we can participate in the joy and sorrow of others.  Whenever joy enters into those who are in pain, sorrow, and distress, it is experienced as consolation; God consoling.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we notice that the Risen Jesus listened to the disciples’ stories and then named the story of God that ran under and through their story.  They were so close to their story they could not see the fullness of it.  Jesus longs to do the same for each of us.

open soul_2When ‘our soul stands ajar’, we recognize the fire that burns within.

When ‘our soul stands ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’, Easter holds far more for us than we can ask or imagine.

If Mary Magdalene had been given what she desired, what she begged for, she would have been given the dead body of Jesus.  Instead, she came face-to-face with the living Christ and heard him speak her name.

What would it take for your ‘soul to stand ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’ of Easter?

Easter Blessings galore, one and all!



By Susan Engel, MHSH

It begins with a question. Several years ago, ABC aired a documentary entitled “Resurrection.” It offered a compelling debate about whether Jesus rose “physically” from the dead.  They interviewed Biblical scholars—Jewish, Protestant and Catholic.  The program did not definitively answer the question of whether the resurrection was physical as well as spiritual.

The answer for me is – something happened that was not merely an internal conversion for the apostles. If they did not have an experience of seeing Jesus in a resurrected form, how could they change so drastically?  Logical reasoning or wishful thinking did not convince the Apostles that Jesus rose from the dead. Neither did reflecting back years later after Jesus’ death make the apostles create the story of the Resurrection. Searching the Hebrew Scriptures for answers could not create such an enormous radical change in the followers of Jesus.

After Jesus died, not only did their dreams and hopes for a new kingdom evaporate, but they were frightened for their own lives.  The gospels record what happened. The Apostles were behind locked doors.  They were fleeing Jerusalem for fear they would be crucified next.  They went back to fishing.  They sought the safety and security of their former lives.  But then Jesus appeared to them and they were emboldened.   Nothing else can explain why all the Apostles, except John, were martyred.

Reading spiritual literature, nature is often cited for a reason to believe in the Resurrection. In the springtime when we see new buds burst forth from what appear to be dead branches, doesn’t that help us believe in life after death? The lesson from nature strengthens my belief in a cosmic creator God.

I know the answer to the question raised in the ABC documentary.

To believe in Jesus’ Resurrection, I look to Mary Magdalene who was the first to meet the risen Jesus, and I see the answer to the question in the lives of the Apostles.

The answer is Easter!  The Resurrection happened.  I’m sure of it.