Holy week for most of us constitutes just two days—Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Holy Saturday is usually a working day or an examination day in college. Hardly, does it strike as a day of prayerful contemplation. It was more a day set aside for preparing or buying Easter eggs, and getting ready for the Vigil mass to bring in the Resurrection Day of Our Lord.
Here I was with around 50 parishioners at Carmel Convent. Fr. Glenford Lowe, SDB gave a handout asking us to choose our tombstone or create one for ourselves.
The Mission Sonshine organized Empty Tomb Experience, which Fr. Glenford Lowe conducted. It brought out the Mystery of Life. We went through the tragic sense of life, caught between the extremes of Life and Death. However, faith tells us that we go beyond death.
We were asked to go up on stage, behind the curtain and make a quick observation of what was there. We went up curiously, but returned with masked faces concealing mixed emotions, for the reflective questions. They were:
- ‘Do I recognise the person lying there?’ Surely ‘not’ because I have only seen someone else lay in the coffin and here am I looking at myself in the mirror placed in a coffin.
- What is the greatest regret I have in my life?
- If given a chance to rise again, how would I have lived differently?
We had to share in groups and we heard the most candid sharing.
Another realistic statement made was ‘Death has no favourites’. Death is certain, it is an accepted truth, but it leaves families grieving. In her book, Death and Dying, Russian author Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross sites four phases of grieving: Denial, anger, blame, bargain-emotional
How can we set ourselves free and accept that death is a part of life.
- Look AT the Cross: As a monument in a church, on the street. As a tattoo that some of us have inked on parts of our body. A sign of the cross before prayers. As an ornament we wear around our neck.
- Look THROUGH the Cross that leads not to death, but to life.
- Look FROM the Cross: Not I, but Christ who lives in me.
We can relate the seven last words of Jesus to our families
- Bless your family with the gift of forgiveness—forgive freely (Father forgive them….)
- It is within the capacity of each of us to make our family a paradise (This day you will….)
- The gift of motherhood is a joy – Respect your mother (Woman, behold… Son, behold…)
- God speaks to us through His word, gestures, healing, silence (Father, why have you….)
- Do you have a Spiritual thirst? (I thirst)
- We need to have the courage to complete what we have begun (It is finished)
- Total surrender to God’s will (Father into your hands…)
He left us with this thought. “If we choose to live in darkness while on earth or after death. If we choose to allow the light to diminish, then we choose a dark place. But it is our choice, always. I am saying that there are no fires of hell except or unless we choose it to be so.”
Rosemary Althea, from the book The Eagle and the Rose