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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Musings at Easter

I think I’m spending too much time hanging around my cats. I find I’m becoming ever more reclusive.

I spent Easter alone. By choice. The entire weekend felt like some extended religious meditation. The History and Discovery Channels kept repeating programs about saints, martyrs, Judas, the Last Supper, crucifixions, relics, miracles, early Christianity, etc., etc. I listened to the programs in the background as I puttered about doing my chores. It all slowly seeped into my brain through some ill-defined process of distracted osmosis. Religion is potent stuff.

* * *

My mother suffered a stroke earlier in the week. This one (she’s had several) did real damage. She lists precariously to her left. There’s practically nothing left of her brain. She has become a 94-year old vestige of a human being. There’s so very little left of her aside from tortured heartbeats. She clings to life…barely.

She is afraid to die.

* * *

I’ve always felt ambivalent about Easter. It is not one of my favorite holy days, even though it truly should be. Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection. It is a celebration of life. It is an homage to the eternal soul.

I think it's the juxtaposition of suffering and death-by-crucifixion followed by a joyous celebration two days later. It’s the duality of emotion that confuses this holy day. Add to that: copious amounts of refined sugar, a palette of pastel hues, and a surfeit of bunnies and eggs. Is it any wonder that Easter tends to be some bi-polar/hyperglycemic hodge-podge of religious expression and pagan bacchanal?

* * *

I was struck by all the blood. I felt drenched in blood. The weekend’s programming placed a heavy emphasis on Christian suffering. The detailed forensic examination of crucifixion as a means of punishment was followed by a retelling of Christ’s last days, which segued to stories of heroic martyrdom that served as a backdrop to recaps of the Church’s violent history. Saturday evening, one could even view Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” I didn’t have the stomach to watch.

Why the emphasis on blood, suffering and death? What purpose is served?

I love the Gospels for their message of peace and love. I love the Gospels for the hope and wisdom embodied within the parables, and the show-cased examples of compassion, mercy, modesty, faith, kindness, forgiveness and redemption.

Why the emphasis on suffering and damnation?

* * *

I always felt sorry for my mother. She was the embodiment of Catholic guilt, self-abnegation and fear of damnation. Although my mother led an exemplary life of Catholic virtues, piety and morality, she fears death. I sensed that she was virtuous mostly out of fear, rather than living virtuously as an expression of boundless love and charity bursting from within (that sounds harsher than I mean it to sound, but I am trying...artlessly, it seems...to make a point). I think she missed out on true joy. Maybe she was possessed of it before the war. I'll never know. What I witnessed was a piety based on fear. She truly fears eternal hell fire. I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind for us.

* * *

I wondered how many people would read my Maundy Thursday thoughts about washing my beloved’s feet and think: “Now, there’s one sappy, hyperbolic romantic.” I suspect that a great many Christians would never think to wash another’s feet, even though Christ Himself provided us with a simple example of the way we should treat each other. Why not follow His example literally? Why do we not take Christ’s loving words and actions to heart?

* * *

7 Comments:

Blogger Ed said...

Prayers for your mother, Jon, and thanks for this post.

Fri Apr 21, 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you

Fri Apr 21, 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger bct said...

I'm so sorry your mother's health is declining. Peace to both of you.

Fri Apr 21, 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Again, thank you for your kind thoughts. They are much appreciated.

Fri Apr 21, 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger krishmd said...

I've been lax in my reading or your blog. Peace to you and your mother.

Wed Apr 26, 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, yes. Peace. A good thing that. Thank you.

Thu Apr 27, 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Watercolored said...

Why the emphasis on blood, suffering and death? What purpose is served? I love the Gospels for their message of peace and love. I love the Gospels for the hope and wisdom embodied within the parables, and the show-cased examples of compassion, mercy, modesty, faith, kindness, forgiveness and redemption.
Why the emphasis on suffering and damnation?

Do you really want to know?
I can help. Mary

Mon May 22, 09:07:00 PM  

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