The Hope That Changes Everything
It was Good Friday in the midst of a pandemic. I had hoped that all would be over by Easter, that our daily life, our apostolate, my formation as a postulant, could just continue as normal.
Then came 3 o’clock; Christ died on the cross for me. My heart was heavy, and I felt the weight of Christ’s suffering, my own concerns and fears, and the sufferings of my loved ones. All of a sudden, as I was kneeling in the chapel, the scent of lilies, the scent of Easter, reached my nose. The lilies had been sitting in the sacristy, waiting for their big moment at the Easter Vigil, but the Lord used them to flood my heart with hope. Hope. The Lord had already won the fight; He had conquered the grave. While seemingly nothing had changed, my heart had been changed by God’s grace in an instant on that Good Friday.
Many weeks later, life still seems to be on hold in so many ways, and yet the hope of the Resurrection continues to be my solid rock on which I am safe. It is the surety that Christ has conquered the world, my fears, my sins, my weaknesses and also the pandemic.
I receive a gentle reminder of this truth every day when we sisters come together to pray the Evening Prayer of the Church. The Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, which we chant as a part of that prayer, has spoken deeply to my heart since the day I entered the convent. In the past few months, though, this canticle has been powerful like never before. No matter if my day has been full of joy or hardship, no matter how weak and powerless I have felt in the face of all the suffering in the world, together with my sisters I unite my voice to Our Lady’s: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”(Lk. 1:46).
Mary teaches me to hope against hope, to put all my trust in the victory of Christ. I love to imagine how Our Lady would have walked home with St. John after the crucifixion, singing quietly the song she first sang when Jesus was not yet born. Then, on Holy Saturday, when it might have seemed to the Apostles as if life had lost its meaning, Mary still sang her song, proclaiming the greatness of the Lord. Our Blessed Lady teaches me to wait in hopeful expectation as she did, knowing that the Resurrection always has the last word. How deeply I want the Lord to always find my heart waiting for Him in the posture of hope and trust.
Certainly I would have never chosen this unusual formation program for myself, but the Lord has chosen it for me. And He has given me something I did not even know I was lacking. Hope – it really changes everything. It allows me to see the truth that God is always, totally, unshakably faithful. “For He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever”(Lk. 1:54-55).
May Our Lady help us to see the Lord’s faithfulness at work every day in our lives and in our world. When we need to hear it most desperately, let us turn to her and listen to her as she tells us: Take courage, Christ is risen as He promised!