Last Sunday, my family went to a windswept swathe of space that served as the lawn--acres of it--of the Kansas governor's mansion. We were there along with droves of children and their guardians for the annual Easter egg hunt. Yes, here in the so-called Sunflower State, Easter came a week earlier ahead of the commemoration of Christ's crucifixion.
What a breezy change, I thought.
From the navel of the "Cradle of Christianity" in Asia, I grew up browbeaten with the stifling sense of the Gothic in the heat of Lent. A time when the altars of churches are draped in purple cloth, and you're expected to wear your Catholic faith like a blood-soaked piece of bandage.
Forgive me, father, but I always had this sneaking suspicion that we were way too self-indulgent circling around our guilt trip over our Redeemer's death. As if we had to feel sorry for having been saved, to begin with! It's like everything God has given us--our senses and its need to be sated--were no less misbegotten than tumors that have to be lopped off with the scalpels of self-abstinence.
Somehow I chaff at the disquiet of being a derelict of my Catholic duty, and I wonder if this is what God wanted me to feel.
Good thing there's always the open-hearted exuberance of an Easter Sunday to validate my innocent belief in a Christ no less alive for truants like me. Whatever faith persists in me, I owe it from an instinctive idea that grace is ineffably larger than dogma-dictated rituals. You and me, sinners all, have long been saved. And it's enough to honor him by being pleased of that knowledge, even if we will lapse as always back to the whole nine yards of our shortcomings.
Through the bone-crunching weight of Holy Week, I prefer and take comfort of the image of Christ smiling despite all the sorrow, our sinfulness, our burden of being human, our never-ending need for our own private paradise. (Something I tried to deal with here in my latest column in the op-ed page of Sun.Star Cebu.)
Happy Easter to all us, now and forever!