To Catch The Rhythm

Miriam Hogan, O.C.D.



      A Sister who had charge of novices once told me that what she looked for in a new person was whether or not she could catch the rhythm of monastic life. Upon further reflection it strikes me that just as monastic life has a rhythm, the Lent /Easter season also has its own special rhythm. Further, it seems that this rhythm has changed in the years since the Second Vatican Council, and that it may be helpful to meditate again on how we can best enter into experiencing the Paschal mystery in our own lives.


     When I was a child, there was a lot of emphasis upon closely following the sequence of the mysteries and entering into the passion of Christ during Lent. This kind of approach was often experienced, especially by children, as long and tiresome. Further, Easter seemed to pass quickly and as a climax to the preceding events.


     When we first look at the Holy Week events, we cannot help but notice that many major events in salvation history took place in a short amount of time. For example, Christ instituted the Eucharist, was arrested, condemned to death, died on a cross, rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples all in the space of three days. The theological explanations of this brief time, however, are enormous and have filled volumes.


      It used to be that we mainly viewed each event as separate and distinct, while today the emphasis is more upon viewing the Paschal mystery as a whole. This means that the Easter event marks all the previous events in the Christ life. When we think of the cross we are invited to meditate upon the triumph of the Cross. Easter, inserted into the event, makes what is horrible into that which is glorious and has salvational value.


     St. Teresa of Jesus had great devotion to the Risen Christ. She also had a keen sense of and devotion to the passion of Christ. However, in her after communion meditations, it was most often the Resurrected Christ that appeared and consoled her. In her writings, she provided us a key to better understand the holy rhythm at work today, namely, that we change and grow in our ways of understanding Christ's presence.


     It is the presence of Christ that gives meaning to our otherwise sometimes meaningless life/death situations.Trusting in that presence gives a new way of looking at human aging, suffering and dying, as well as new life and joy.


Integrating Life Experiences    


      In our Post Vatican II milieu, we are especially asked to integrate the various Paschal mysteries into our own life experiences. This is in keeping with the Pauline scripture to enter into the redemptive work of Christ in our own times and culture. What in the past was sometimes an external exercise, fragmented into special categories of understanding and feeling, now becomes more consciously a part of our everyday living. The seasons of Lent and Easter gently beckon us to be more fully aware of what is all the time happening within. By catching this ongoing subtle interior rhythm, we are drawn to more deeply appreciate the contemplative dimension of our Christian lives.


     The focus is still upon Christ, yet, we are freshly called to an ever-new participation in traditional events.   The poet, G.M. Hopkins, expressed this eloquently when he wrote:


Let Christ Easter in you…Be Daylight to the dimness in you…Be a Crimson Crested Dawn in you.

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