31 March 2024

Here comes the sun and I say, it's alright

It's Easter Sunday. For Catholics, Lent is a very important time of reflection and prayer. I had been observing Lent as I always have - starting with Ash Wednesday, then visiting Churches and praying the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, and celebrating on Easter. This year is a bit different; I've had the most revelational Holy Week. 

While we were doing a Church group activity in the local parish, a member of the Liturgy group who was assisting us with setting up asked if our group can assist with the Altar of the Repose on Maunday Thursday. This is something new to me, and I didn't know what it entails. He said it's scripture reading and singing meditational songs and silent prayers. It's for commemmorating Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane. We were assigned the 10-11pm slot (the vigil starts after the 7pm mass).

I managed to get a couple of people sign up and we started planning by chat the night prior. I told them in all honesty that I did not know what it is about. With one of the volunteers, we identified three songs and the other suggested getting readings from a Lenten reflection booklet. Then we called it a night. The next morning. I checked our chat group and saw the other volunteer had come up with a very extensive document we can use that has scripture readings and various songs woven inbetween. It was eleven pages long, surely enough to last the hour. What a relief that was!

That night, my family attended the 7pm mass which highlighted the washing of the feet, then we went to a different place near the church for the Altar of the Repose. We left for dinner then came back a few minutes before 10.

I was expecting my family and only three people from our church group to be there. Instead there were around 14 of us! We read scriptures and sang and a couple of our group took turns playing the guitar.  What a moving experience.

Then on Friday we started our Visita Iglesia 11am. Again I thought we'll only be a handful but we had quite a turnout. We visited seven churches and on the last one, we heard the 3pm mass for the Seven last words. At the homily the priest emphasised John 3:16 replacing 'world' with a someone's name in the congregation to drive the point that Jesus died for each one of us.

We stayed at a friend's home for dinner while watching the first episode of a short series about Moses.

It had been a long Thursday and Friday day and I went home exhausted.

When I woke up the next day, I suddenly felt enlightened. Have you ever experienced mulling over a problem and then you sleep over it and you come up with a solution when you wake up the next day? That's how it felt for me.

When we were approached that Saturday to help out for Thursday, I spent those nights worrying as I did not know what I was doing, and only a couple raised their hands to help. But it all worked out in the end.

Then on Friday as they planned on the Visita Iglesia which required a lot of driving, I became anxious as I don't actually relish the thought of driving to seven different destinations. I had braced myself mentally for the day. Friends were going to come over and carpool with us. Then at the very last minute, our friend offered to use their car and he will drive.

That Saturday made me reflect on these things. I was willing to do things for Him but I was also very conflicted inside. And He knew.

My wife and I managed to watch the second episode of the Moses series before sleeping on Good Friday. I was somewhere between dozing off and focusing on the show but I somehow managed recall one message when I woke up the following morning. One of the narrators said God was fighting for the Israelites; He was doing the work for them. In some form I also experienced that this Lent. Surely it was not coincidence that help would come when I least expected it!

Faith is indeed a very mysterious thing. I know that in matters of faith I am still wanting and I doubt when in times of trial, and yet I would like to believe that God pulls through for me. He helps me fight my battles. This Lenten season is a lesson for me to not just hear, but to listen.

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