I had the great privilege of hearing Msgr. Mike, Vicar General of the Diocese of Austin, give the homily on Easter Sunday at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church. It was a fantastic homily, one full of history and exciting stories and themes of forgiveness and hope. He spoke of “Easter eyes” and how we must learn to see with them. He talked about how the resurrection affords us this ability – to see with new faith and hope. Before the resurrection, there was darkness and despair, but when Christ saved us he brought us the light of eternal salvation, of eternal hope.
It was a beautiful homily and I wish I could say that I listened to it with complete faith and understanding. The truth was I listened to it confused, and a little frustrated.
This season of Lent was no cake walk for me, in that I broke every single Lenten promise I made, at least a handful of times. I vowed to read and meditate for at least 30 minutes every morning and every night. I think I may have done that a total of four times. Fail. I vowed to read all of St. Francis de Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ and got about halfway through (those meditations are brutal!). Fail again. I vowed to not drink alcohol or eat chocolate. My roommates can attest to how many times I broke that promise. Fail times ten.
Lent was a season of failures on my part, something that filled me with equal parts self-loathing and apathy (a nifty trick to have both of those coexist in the same brain). I was mad at myself for not being more disciplined, and every time I failed, I grew more impatient and frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I be more holy? Why couldn’t I be more obedient? Why couldn’t I succeed? (Notice all the “I’s” and “me’s” in that rant.)
It wasn’t until I heard that homily that it began to make more sense.
In my last blog I wrote about falling with Jesus, how that is a lesson in humility and love. I wrote about our dependence on God and trusting he will pick us back up after we fall. So maybe I’m repeating myself, and if I am, mea culpa, please forgive me. But in my defense, this whole trust-in-God-be-humble thing is crazy difficult to not only understand, but to practice. Turns out I fail pretty hardcore at it.
But I digress. Again.
The homily of “Easter eyes” brought home a point I had been missing. It pointed out that we have to change how we see everything. We have to filter what we experience through the understanding of hope and redemption. We have to accept and embrace that we cannot see the complete picture. Some of us (namely, me) get stuck staring at the empty tomb, focusing on the fact that Jesus’ body is missing. We don’t see beyond that confusion or sense of loss. We don’t run out of the tomb and look up at the sky, remembering his promise and having faith that he will fulfill it.
Having “Easter eyes” means dying to self enough to accept that we cannot see the whole picture, but we can put our faith and trust that God is doing a spectacular job anyway. We have to accept with painful humility that we will fail over and over again, but that God’s plan, however long it takes, will ultimately end in hope and salvation. We have to accept that we are weak, that we are nothing without Him who gives us life and depth and meaning. And finally, we have to hope that there is light and redemption beyond the empty tomb, beyond the pain, beyond the suffering and confusion.
Sounds super easy, right? Ha! Not for this girl. I know that the lessons I received this Easter season are not even close to being complete. I know that even my tiny, limited understanding is just the beginning. And I am SO excited about that.
In closing, I’d like to leave a quote from ‘He Leadeth Me’ an amazing book by the Jesuit author, Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.:
“Somehow, by the trials and tribulations of this life, our souls must be purified of this dross of self if we are to become ultimately acceptable to God. For each of us the trials will come in different ways and at different times – for some, self may be easier to overcome than for others – but we were created to do God’s will and not our own, to make our own wills conform to his and not vice versa. We can daily pray for the grace to do this, without always meaning it; we can promise quite easily in prayer that we will do it. What we fail to see is how much of self still resides in that promise, how much we are trusting in our own powers when we say that we will do it. In large tests or small, therefore, God must sometimes allow us to act on our own so we can learn humility, so we can learn the truth of our total dependence on him, so we can learn that all our actions are sustained by his grace and that without him we can do nothing – not even make our own mistakes.”