Easter was different yesterday. We gathered for mass in our family room as opposed to our church. I sat on the couch next to my husband and thirteen-year-old son. We faced my two daughters who sat together on the other couch. We created our own little domestic church gathered together to participate in mass virtually with my children’s godfather, “Hooch”, (A.K.A. Fr. Michael Alello), as the presider. I was thankful for the familiar face on the screen as we began as Chris and I have known Michael since we were fourteen years old, and he remains one of our best friends. We have all lived through many ups and downs together.
Even with Michael’s face providing some familiarity, as mass began, I felt a bit frustrated. Not only were we not gathered in our parish community, but technology was also giving us issues. Finally, the image on the screen became clear, and we were able to engage in Easter mass unlike any other year before. As the words of the liturgy began to pour over me, I could feel something begin shift in me. There was a spirit of solidarity that became apparent in me as I realized that most people across the country and world were engaging in Easter in a different way this year. I felt a strange solidarity, also, with the early disciples who at one time sat huddled in a locked room facing the unknown and feeling afraid. Life as they knew it was over. The path before them was unclear. It struck me that we, too sat huddled together in our home facing the unknown future, trying to accept that life as we once knew it is currently over.
As mass continued, I continued to mull this over in my mind. And then Michael stood up to give his homily. Listening to him preach even after his thirteen years of priesthood, remains a treat. His words today came into my heart in the way St. Ignatius describes the movement of the Holy Spirit in us- like water easily received on a sponge. They filled me with great hope.
He compared the Resurrection to the transformation that happens with the yeast, the water, the flour, and the work of our hands it takes to make cinnamon rolls. He said those things come together to become something new that “rises up”. He reminded us that the stone is rolled away, that Jesus is risen, and that we are transformed. He invited us to remember that this time of quarantine is a holy pause and that the stone has been rolled away in our lives. He challenged us to not return to the way life was before quarantine, but to let this time of holy pause transform us. He invited us to let the Risen Christ into this experience and our lives and “Rise Up!” and never be the same. He went on to encourage us to not put the stone back onto the tomb when life returns to “normal”, but to let this time we are in, transform us and that we may live anew. That we may be transformed and as we are that we “Rise Up!”
He invited us to physically stand up in our homes and to “Rise Up!” so that our physically standing up symbolizes the Easter hope that is here for each one of us. So, we stood! All five of us, gathered in our domestic church in our family room, physically rose up. As we did, I could feel my spirit “rise up!” as well. I stood with a commitment to embrace Easter hope like never before. Michael’s message of hope and Easter joy filled my heart and welled tears in my eyes.
As I stood up, I thought back to people all over the world who are celebrating this unbelievable moment in our salvation history. The moment that evil did not win. Darkness did not get the final word. The moment of complete shock to Jesus’ mother Mary, to the disciples, to the entire community, that Jesus rose from the dead. The moment that changed everything. The moment that secured our hope. The very moment that connects me and you as you read this reflection today. Jesus rose up.
Today is launch day for my new book, The Inner Chapel. To say I have questioned it coming out into the world right now, is a vast understatement. I have agonized over it and doubted it. Here’s the deal, though. If I believe in the Resurrection, which I do, then I must also believe that Jesus can help bring this book out into the world in the most unexpected ways. I am committing to each of you that I will “Rise up!” and accept the words given to me to share. I will “Rise up!” and proclaim the Good News given to each one of us through the words in the book. I will “Rise up!” out of my own locked room filled with worry and fear just as the disciples did out of their locked room full of doubt and disbelief. I will believe in the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit given to me and to each one of us. I will “Rise up!” and commit to being a herald of hope, a witness to joy, and to proudly share the source of both as the Risen Christ who has transformed my life.
I invite you to join me. Let us “Rise up!” together and be witnesses of hope in this time of darkness. Let our Easter song be one that proclaims from the roof-tops that we know this is not the end of the story. That God can and will transform this time of darkness. Let us “Rise up” and stand in our anchor of hope, that is firm and secure, and given to us by Jesus’ Resurrection. Every time we stand this week, let our physical rising be a reminder of the Easter song of hope in each one of us.
“Rise up!” “Rise up!” “Rise up!”
What is ONE thing you can do this week to “Rise up!” and proclaim the Good News of hope?
- Go listen to Fr. Michael’s homily and follow him on FB here.
- Scriptures to pray with: Resurrection gospels
- Prayer Tool Tuesday – Each Tuesday at 4:30 pm Central via Zoom – Gather with my dear friend Stephanie Clouatre Davis and I this week, April 20, in learning a new prayer tool. Follow my Facebook page for details.
- Wanting a directed retreat? Wanting more prayer support during this time? The retreat directors from the Online Busy Person’s Retreat are happy to extend the invitation of an online busy person’s retreat on your schedule – meeting online with a spiritual director for one hour a day for four-days. If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the four days and timeframe you have available and we will work to match you with a director.
- Visit my Spiritual Support webpage with more resources during this unprecedented time of COVID-19 and follow me on Facebook & Instagram for daily scripture inspiration and for the latest resources.
The Inner Chapel: My New Book!
- My new book, The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God is coming out April 13, as in TODAY. As a sincere “Thank You!” to all of you for your support, my publisher has extended a 30% off code for orders and preorders through August 13. Simply go to Loyolapress.com/innerchapel and use promo code 5207. You can also pre-order from Barnes and Noble and on your Kindle from Amazon.
- GIVEAWAY: Share in Launch Day with us! Share this launch day graphic today on your social media and tag #theinnerchapel and Becky’s public page on Facebook or @beldredge98 on Instagram to be entered in the launch day giveaway! The winner gets a signed copy of The Inner Chapel and an awesome new “Going to my inner chapel” mug!
- Read an excerpt from The Inner Chapel: My chapter called Suffering Makes us Compassionate is perfect for all that is going on in the world currently.