Paschal Blessings

There is a very special place in God’s heart for us sinners, and I am no better than anyone else. This Paschal Triduum, I was beautifully reminded of how good and merciful God is.

Welcome to article 26 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Br. Josh, MIC, a second-year seminarian at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. It is the continuation of Br. Josh's previous column, "Novice Notes."

By Br. Josh, MIC

This year’s Paschal Triduum was eventful. 

I spent most of the liturgies with the group I’ve been accompanying through the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA). I’d been exhausted and sick for two weeks, so I missed a couple of meetings. 

When I sat in the pew behind “my people” at Holy Family Parish, Matt, the husband of Meghan who is entering the Church, noticed me first and greeted me warmly with a fist bump. Later in the service, a convert named Ben who is joining the Church became aware of my presence and, even though he was two pews ahead of me, he reached all the way across the gap to shake my hand. That really touched me.

Holy Saturday
On Holy Saturday, I did the longest pre-marathon run in my training program, 20 miles of running. Because I also did fast-walking while drinking water and eating bananas or electrolyte pills, my total distance was about 21.1 miles. 

I did spiritual reading and “extra” meditation for the first 5.5 miles (our half hour meditation was in common that day), and for the rest of the distance, I studied exam notes. Three exams were coming up throughout the next week; it is a definite gift to be able to study while running! 

It was fitting, to me, that the longest training run in my program happened to fall on Holy Saturday because Our Lady’s faith and sorrow are a key part of what we remember on that day, while Jesus was in the tomb. 

The intention that I’m offering up for all the unpleasantness in my runs happens to be, “The glorification of our Lady in her sorrows, to be united with her in these virtues, for her intentions to be fulfilled and her greatest happiness to be realized on Earth.” Therefore, there seemed to me a particular blessing that the longest training run was on Holy Saturday. 

When I finished the run, cleaned up and got back upstairs to my room, I turned on the computer to check what time I needed to be at Holy Family that evening. The image splayed across the desktop was of a man in black clothes running and leaping into the air, arms stretched out, in the direction of the sea.

I felt Our Lady sweetly speaking to me of it. Few of my desktop images have running in them, so this felt like a providential affirmation of what I had just finished. Our Lady seemed to be saying, “This is how I see you right now.”

Visualizing Our Lady
There were also tougher and more beautiful meditations for me this Paschal Triduum. On Good Friday, I saw my sins clearly as I read the agonies of our Lord from scripture. I confessed my sins later that day. My sins were venial, but the arguments and conflicts with others hurt Jesus.

As I meditated, on the morning of Holy Saturday, I found myself again with Our Lady. In my mind I was sitting in a relaxed way on the grass, and looking up at me, she said in Italian, “Venga,” which means, “Come.”

I sat near her and she took my hand in hers. 

There was sorrow in my heart as I looked into her kind eyes. I said, “Ho causato troppo dolorosa a altri nella mia vita,” which means, “I have caused too much pain to others in my life.”

She clasped my hand tighter and her reply amazed me. “E tu sei ancora piu vicino a me.” “And you are even closer to me.”

Divine Mercy
Her words reminded me of the Divine Mercy message, how our sins give us a yet greater right to God’s mercy. Rather than being a mere obstacle, our sins can catapult us even closer to God’s goodness as we receive His mercy. 

There is a very special place in God’s heart for us sinners, and I am no better than anyone else. This Paschal Triduum, I was beautifully reminded of how good and merciful God is.

Next: "Running and Penance."
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