I remember as a child every Easter Sunday my mother made me a beautiful new dress and paired it with white shoes and a nice hat. Our parish church, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Brownsville, filled with everybody from the neighborhood. We gathered to celebrate a very special day. I did not understand much at the time, other than we were happy going to church and we all looked beautiful.
As I grew, I came to understand the joy of the Resurrection. My Lenten journey to Easter makes me mindful of the Via Dolorosa we must endure in our own lives on our way to salvation, and the joy the Lord wants for each of us.
Easter Sunday this year will be unlike any I have ever experienced. For the first time in my lifetime, the church will be empty. My sisters, niece, and Goddaughter will not sit next to each other in celebration.
This year, somehow we must find a new way to celebrate Easter Sunday, and to understand how we can celebrate in the midst of all that is happening.
When Mary of Magdala found the tomb empty, she must have felt immense grief that the Lord had been taken from the tomb. Like Mary of Magdala, we might find ourselves feeling sad this Easter Sunday as we find our churches empty on this special feast day. And like the disciples who found the tomb empty and did not understand the scriptures that our Lord had to rise from the dead, we too might be at a loss for understanding. We might ask ourselves, “How can we possibly celebrate when we cannot enter our churches?”
Let us remember that what we celebrate on this special day is that our Lord is Risen!
In the midst of what appears to be darkness all around us during this pandemic which has led to much isolation and suffering, we know and understand that our Lord is risen and is at our side.
Pope Francis invites us to embrace Our Lord’s cross by embracing the hardships of the present time and making room in our heart for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. By embracing the Lord, we embrace hope that is the strength of faith which frees us from fear and gives us hope.
There is much to celebrate and rejoice. Our faith in Jesus Christ can fill us with joy in our own confined spaces at home. Together with our families and united in prayer and celebration, we rejoice with the whole world on this special day. While our churches may be empty this Easter Sunday, we can look beautiful and happy because our Lord is Risen!
Sr. Norma Pimentel, M.J., a sister with the Missionaries of Jesus, is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of different ministries and services in the Rio Grande Valley through emergency assistance, homelessness prevention, disaster relief, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, food programs, and humanitarian relief to immigrants.