God-Easter-hope

From death to life

Holy Week and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) have long been my favorite time of the liturgical year.God-Easter-hopeI love hearing the Passion twice in one week and watching the pageantry of Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. The rich symbolism of the Easter Vigil touches my heart and invites me to renewal in a unique way. The baptisms and confirmations of people choosing my faith as their own always strengthens my faith and makes me more hopeful.

Since 2002, Holy Week has the added significance of being the week my dad died. It was Monday of Holy Week (March 25 that year), and every Holy Week Monday is now a memorial day for me.

On the Saturday before Palm Sunday in 2002, the hospice nurse called and said, “Your dad is ready to die, but your mother won’t let go. You have to come home.”  I explained that I was coming home for Easter and already had my ticket for Thursday. “No, you have to come now,” she insisted. So I changed my ticket and came home the next day, Palm Sunday.

Contemplating Jesus’ Passion and death that year, while my dad was also dying, brought new, deeper meaning to the mystery of death and resurrection.

Once my mother let go of my dad, once she truly said good-bye to him, he died within an hour. The nurse was right; he was ready.God-Easter-hopeThen five years, ago, my friend Jim died on Tuesday of Holy Week (April 3 that year), adding another memorial to an already meaningful time.

On Palm Sunday 2012, almost nine months after his diagnosis of brain cancer, we knew Jim was close to death. He ate his last meal that Sunday afternoon, spent the next day in bed, and died early Tuesday morning.

Their deaths, occurring during this holiest time of the year, has deepened my understanding of the Paschal mystery—how death is part of life and how new life can come from death.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)God-Easter-hopeI ask myself what fruit has been produced by their deaths—and the deaths of others I have loved.

One fruit is my deep awareness of how fortunate I am to have loved and been loved. I know myself as blessed, even in the absence of those I love.

St. John Chrysostom said, “Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they once were. They are now whenever we are.”

It is true that my dad, Jim and all the other people I have lost are no longer present in physical form, but I carry them in my heart, and they are with me in a different way. I think of them often, and their lives and deaths help me to live each day in awareness of the fragility of life and in gratitude for all that is.
God-Easter-hope

 

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14 thoughts on “From death to life

  1. Linda Heffernan

    Good morning, Madeline, Your blog was the first thing I read this morning, and i thought of what’s happening in my life. My mom died on Holy Thursday, which was April 4, 1985, and my first husband’s father on Good Friday in 1976. Both Mom and Ray died of massive heart attacks in their late 50’s, so this along with Jim’s death makes this a week when I am especially aware of life’s fragility. This Holy Week has been the most meaningful of my life. Among other things, I led the singing ( along with some musical instruments) for a Taize service Tuesday night and sang the Faure Requiem last night at the Good Friday service. Tomorrow I hope to go to the sunrise service, and I know that I will experience Easter in a new way. Thank you for all the years when you have shared your faith and lived it in the world. If I were asked to name the person who most lives her faith as an example to others, it would be you. Happy Easter! Love, Linda

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Reply
    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      thanks for sharing, Linda. I have been thinking of you this Holy Week. Your renewed faith is inspiring to me, and I feel such deep joy for you. The promise of Easter is new life and I wish you blessings more abundant than you could ever have asked or imagined.

      Reply
  2. eileen askey

    Madeline. You played such a rich role in my coming into the Church from a formerly failed faith journey….your prayers and joy for me urged me on, in concert with Fr. Jim’s, and his great faith in my ‘doing this!’ I remember your words that Easter Vigil….”I feel like Elizabeth greeting Mary!” Thank you for that.

    Reply
  3. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Eileen, I think of you every Holy Week and the journey you have made in your faith. You inspire me by your commitment, your faithfulness and your hope. Have a blessed Easter.

    Reply
  4. patrick powers

    Thank you Madeline! Jim’s memory and spirit and presence and friendship and brotherhood continues to bless me also…the mystery of his weaknesses continue to remind me of his eternal compassion for me, a kindred-sinner! In love Patrick  | And what is Earth’s eye, tongue, or heart else, where | | | Else, but in dear and dogged man? G.M. Hopkins

    “you truly exist where you love not merely where you live.” Bonaventure |

    From: Madeline Bialecki To: pdpowers@rocketmail.com Sent: Saturday, April 15, 2017 12:30 AM Subject: [New post] From death to life #yiv9963524515 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9963524515 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9963524515 a.yiv9963524515primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9963524515 a.yiv9963524515primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9963524515 a.yiv9963524515primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9963524515 a.yiv9963524515primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9963524515 WordPress.com | Madeline Bialecki posted: “Holy Week and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) have long been my favorite time of the liturgical year.I love hearing the Passion twice in one week and watching the pageantry of Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. The rich symbolis” | |

    Reply
  5. GretchenJoanna

    Thank you for telling this meaningful story, with these true words: “… my dad, Jim and all the other people I have lost are no longer present in physical form, but I carry them in my heart, and they are with me in a different way….”

    My husband died just before Pascha two years ago, and all the services of Holy Week and Pascha and Bright Week were just what I needed, to put myself and my grief into the context of the Resurrection. Every year, the experience is repeated. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

    Reply

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