Originally posted 4/2/2012, but since it's been a top search on my page the last couple weeks, I thought I'd make it easier for folks to find. Enjoy!
Busted Halo did a wonderful video that's been going viral along the Christian blogosphere. I found it through Michelle at Liturgical Time. You, too, can see it if you follow her link.
Anyway, for as much as I enjoyed the video (and I did - especially the music!), I was bummed they left out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I mean, I understand they're not considered "as important" as the other days of Holy Week, but they're still part of Holy Week and deserve at least an honorable mention, right?
Trying to view Holy Week as only Palm Sunday and the Triduum is like viewing a puzzle with several missing pieces. Sure, you can probably make out what the picture's supposed to be, but you miss details and information that make the image clearer and more beautiful.
Monday was the cleansing of the Temple - it's what put the Sanhedrin on high alert since the Romans (now present in higher numbers in the city to keep the peace during Passover) saw Christ not only messing with the Jewish folks, but all the Gentiles who gathered in the court of the Temple to exchange goods / services.
Tuesday was full of parables and prophecy. Tuesday was, in my opinion, the day that the Pharisees finally decided that Jesus MUST be dealt with before the week's end (due to the Render Unto Caesar response). This was when they finally realized they'd never get the best of Him, and had to find a way to kill Him.
Wednesday was the day we remember Judas' actual betrayal. It's also when Christ's death / burial was predicted through the actions of the woman with the perfume.
Each day does, after all, bring us one step closer to the Foot of the Cross. Monday reminds us that we must focus on spirituality and a proper last minute cleansing of our own temples (bodies) so we are ready to accept the Sacrifice of Christ. Tuesday, cautions us to always be ready for the return of Jesus lest we be caught unprepared. Wednesday... it's like our last moment during Lent to anoint Jesus with our humble offerings - the charitable acts, fasting, and mortifications completed throughout Lent.
Those three days are of such importance. I wish Broken Halo had mentioned something about them. But ah well... there's only so much you can do in 2 minutes, and they certainly picked the highlights!
Good Friday falls on March 25th this year - the Feast of the Annunciation! Salvation is ransomed on the 33rd anniversary of it's Incarnate Promise! My mind has seriously just exploded.
This is a very rare occurrence. In fact, since 1864, it's only happened FIVE times. 2016 will bring that total to six, and it won't happen again for another 141 years (that's 2157 for those doing the math). Thus, in our lifetimes (and in our children's lifetimes) this is a rare opportunity. When we participate in the Triduum Liturgy, not only is it a connection between the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday but a confirmation of the Annunciation - a full circle of Salvation History!
That all being said, the Church chooses to "transfer" celebration of the Annunciation to a different date when this sort of thing happens. That's explained here:
I can understand why this might be in the rubrics, but I wish it wasn't explained away as "Good Friday is more important than the Annunciation."
The Annunciation celebrates a deeper truth than Angel Gabriel giving Mary the heads up about Jesus; it celebrates the Incarnation which was a direct result of Mary's Fiat. Christ became incarnate specifically so Good Friday could happen which is why having the Annunciation fall on Good Friday is so poetic.
Folks are always so surprised when the Feast of the Annunciation rolls around every year. After all, it always falls during Lent, and who wants to think about Baby Jesus when they're focusing on the Crucified Christ?
Sometimes, it's very hard for us to reconcile that those two Persons are, in fact, the same. And yet, it is true. Christ became incarnate within Mary precisely so He could grow up to meet the Cross on Calvary. Thus, the Annunciation (also celebrating the Incarnation) is inextricably linked to Lent. We would do well to remember in our meditations the great Sacrifice that began with this very Feast.
Mary's Passion, too, began here. After all, when she consented to bear God within her, she wasn't just consenting to become a mother in a way she didn't understand. She was also consenting to the immense suffering she knew would come with such a request. While she may not have known her Beloved Son would be so cruelly murdered, I have little doubt she understood that He'd be the Sacrifice which would ransom humanity.
Indeed, we know Our Lady was raised in the Temple. She would have known the Old Testament scriptures through and through. In fact, she is many times pictured with scrolls or kneeling / standing behind a pulpit with prayer meditations. Thus, because of her intimate knowledge of Scripture (the non-incarnate Word of God), it would be easy to surmise that she had a pretty good idea that once incarnate, the Word would fulfill the many passages that prophesied His Passion and Death.
This connection is one of the reasons I love John William Waterhouse's painting of the Annunciation so much:
Here we see Our Lady on a prayer rug with the Scripture at her left. Angel Gabriel approaches, but instead of being dressed in a flowing white robe with golden wings, we see him in purple!
Purple, folks... the color of both Advent and Lent (keenly joined thematically through the Annunciation). Purple, as I always tell my students, is the color of sacrifice. Why? Because way back when, the dye for making that color was so expensive that only the very rich could afford it. Hence why the Romans were always dressed in purple - to signify their power.
To scrimp and save for such a color would require intense sacrifice. This is why purple has historically been reserved for (and indicative of) royalty. It's also why the Church chose to utilize this color for Advent and Lent, our times of penitence through sacrifice.
Anyway, Angel Gabriel isn't just bringing Mary joyous tidings of Divine Motherhood. Instead, he is bearing such awesome news with equally awesome humility as the glorious honor is an equally heartbreaking burden. (***Fun Note: In the Jewish language, the word "honor" is "kabad/kabed" which actually translates to something akin to "glorify and burden." So thinking back to the 10 Commandments the Jews were given, #4 - Honor thy father and mother - takes on a whole new meaning. I detailed how Jesus could possibly reconcile these two through His treatment of Our Lady here.***)
Waterhouse's stunning portrayal of Our Lady is just so incredible. She has her hand over her heart, her other hand on her head, and this look of gentle contemplation on her face. This must be the moment just before her "Fiat." She's processing what Angel Gabriel has said, and Gabriel, along with all of Heaven, awaits her response with bated breath.
Will she take up the obedience that Eve let fall? Will she consent to hand her very body and soul to God for the Salvation of humanity?
"I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to thy word."
And with that glorious, humble response, this heavenly messenger no doubt fell to his knees in adoration as the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, enabling Christ to become incarnate within her sacred womb, the first tabernacle of His True Presence:
In Filippino's painting, we even see a cross that seems to take form within her robe over her womb as if signifying Christ's incarnation. Again, she is surrounded by books and the red of martyrdom as if again hinting towards her own Passion. What a beautiful, humbling Feast. So yes, it has its place in Lent (and not just because it falls 9 months before Christmas).
***Also, another fun aside, in Waterhouse's painting, there is a spindle and distaff of yarn next to Our Lady. Symbolically, the spindle and distaff represent the present life and the spiritual life. The spindle, ever spinning, is indicative of life on earth while the distaff moves up to remind us of the heavenly plane. I can't be sure, but I can't help but wonder if Waterhouse wasn't suggesting that Our Lady is the pure white thread connecting humanity (through her Fiat) to Heaven.
I really do love me some Sacred Art.
This photo showed up in my Facebook feed courtesy of their "Share a Memory" feature. I laughed when I saw it because I had been thinking how nice it'd be to leave the winter winds and head for the Caribbean (where this picture was taken). So there I am sitting at my computer desk looking at myself looking back at me with Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" on repeat in my head.
Oh Gina... how I'd love to go run around on Bahamian beach at night with you! Unfortunately, I won't have money or vacation time to do that for quite a while! And that's okay. We'll figure something out, you and I. We always do. Summer's almost here, after all. We won't have to travel too far for sunshine and sand!
Anyway, I shared the photo to Facebook with a similar musing. One of my fellow teacher-friends messaged me and said something along the lines of, "Gina, you're so beautiful in that picture. John's such a fool for walking away."
I know she was trying to be helpful, but my first thought was, "You think he left because he thought I wasn't pretty enough?!"
I recognize how silly that thought is, mind you, but that's how I first read it. It frustrated me, because it almost negates the fact that he didn't just walk away from me. He walked away from our family. Sure he still sees the kids, but he's no longer the presence he once was and he certainly won't be the presence for Nate that he was for Vince. It was never about walking away from me - it was about walking away from US. And by us, I mean the boys and I, and I mean John and I. US as in family and US as in married couple.
All that I gave up and pushed aside, and this friend thinks he walked away because John didn't recognize how pretty I am? *Shakes head* Trust me, folks, it runs much more deeply than physical attractiveness. John's decision to walk away has much more to do with immaturity and selfishness than it does my looks. I could be a bombshell walking around topless carrying craft beer and he still would have complained that I wasn't good enough. My looks had nothing to do with it. Me being a bombshell and carrying craft beers wouldn't have helped him recapture his 20s. It certainly wouldn't have fixed his frustrations with friends and family. It wouldn't have helped his lack of fulfillment with work, and no... it wouldn't have helped him recognize the depth of his vocational calling. Again, my looks had very little to do with John's decision to chase after the unicorn of a "perfect marriage." Heck, *I* had very little to do with John's decision.
After all, I did all the things a good wife is supposed to do.
So yeah. I gave, and gave, and gave, and at the end of the day, none of it was good enough for John who STILL believes that I didn't do enough or try enough to make him happy. The truth is, he's simply projecting his failures onto me. He has failed at being a husband on so many levels and in so many impressively careless ways that it's a miracle this marriage lasted long enough to create Nathan. It wasn't a miracle, though. It was my patience. It was my rock-solid faith in the Sacrament of Marriage. It was my trust in God's Plan, even at my own expense. It was my pride... the pride that blinded me to the fact that the marriage I fought to save never existed to begin with.
So no. That picture up there? Yeah, it's a nice one. But me looking nice is not what makes it a shame that John walked out. John took it while we were on vacation in the Bahamas. However, John didn't take it because he thought I looked particularly nice (a courtesy, by the way, he has never paid me - not even on the day we married). He took it because I asked him to. I was walking towards the water, and I was so happy and adventurous that I wanted a memento of it.
I wanted to be able to look back and see the joy and rush of romance as I thought on the memory of that night.
In truth, I can see that plainly on my face. I was right to ask him to snap this shot. But John wouldn't have seen it. He probably still wouldn't see it. The sad truth is, John has never seen me for who I am. He will never appreciate who I am nor what I've done for him. While I strove to recognize even the smallest things he did (because I am forever the optimist and will cling to any semblance of good in a person), he refused to acknowledge anything but the worst in me.
So this picture - it wasn't for John. Not then, and not now. It was and is for me. This beautiful young woman still exists inside me, and eventually, there will be someone who recognizes, knows, and appreciates her. Not just part of her. Not just the imagined potential of her. Just HER. And that will be enough.
I was really touched by the amount of people who wrote in asking about Vince. Some of you were concerned that I hadn't updated in a while, so here I am! This update is for you.
However, it's also an update for all those parents who, like me, had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad SERIES of days. This entry is proof that all those Alexander-esque days are but embers of ash from which things like THIS arise:
That's right! Vincent is reading, and not only is he reading, he's reading well and he's PROUD of himself for doing it!
He catches himself a few times, but he presses on. I apologize that the camera starts to shake, but I was crying as he made his way further into the story. He tried to stop when he saw me get the camera, but I pressed him on and he WENT!
And as I watched him, threads of emotion crocheted together and spilled out of my heart like a colorful scarf that invisibly crept around his smile to pulled it jealously into my memory.
This boy that has been labelled defiant... hyperactive... aggressive... impossible to teach. He's been labelled a nuisance... a frustration... a "THAT boy."
Seeing him claim victory over this story made me want smack those people in the face with this video. Repeatedly.
And then if this video wasn't enough to make a mother's heart explode, he goes and tops it with by bringing my soul the closest it's ever been to seeing Heaven.
You see, Vince decided to raise money for the American Heart Association for Lent. He did it with his school, and he was PSYCHED. On the first night we got the paperwork, I sat him down and explained everything. He surprised me by asking empathic questions about children with heart defects and their parents who obviously struggle seeing their children in pain. It moved me to witness his heart grow to encompass the mission of the charity.
So together, we made his special homepage. We chose pictures and a message and then posted it to Facebook. Within a few hours, he'd beaten his first goal of $250. Within a day, he busted through his $500 goal. Finally, by the end of the campaign, he'd helped raise $1,125.
Vincent, my little boy wonder!
I'd post little videos / messages from Vince and it got folks really excited to see him so excited! As a special "Thank You" to donors, we put together "Hero Hearts" out of foam, stamps and stickers. It was a very tangible way for him to see his excitement reach out to infect others.
Vince and I go apple picking every fall. Ever since he was able to toddle around and snatch apples that had fallen to the ground, he's looked forward to the hayride and hunt for the perfect apple. I explained that his heart was a lot like an apple tree. It has a million love-apples on it, and every time he shares a love-apple with someone, a new love-apple grows. He never runs out of love-apples. Instead, he keeps growing new ones so he can share more and more with everyone else. That's what these "Hero Hearts" represented (at least that's what I was hoping they represented to him).
But the best part came when he found out about the total tally. When he first heard the total, he let out a very tepid "Yay." However, he quickly asks a question that made me realize that even though I'm a miserable failure in a million different ways, God has picked up for me in the parenting department, because my son's heart is golden:
This kid... he and his brother have my heart. They are my Heaven - as is their sister who is praying us up!
So to those parents who have felt the struggle, know that it is but the ash from which your child - a glorious, divinely created person- will burst forth as a phoenix.
<3 <3 <3
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