I assembled a quick breakfast for Jon while listening to the daily readings and Gospel for the day. I was delighted by the simple beauty and message of the vision I set before me. “Do this in remembrance of me.”
I didn’t arrange it, but it was a fitting image for today’s breakfast. If you have yet to hear, it’s Holy Week. It’s Holy Thursday (when I write this), to be exact. It’s Good Friday when I publish this.
Serving on a Platter.
It’s Holy Week.
God is always in the details.
It’s my favorite week of the Liturgical Season, maybe of the entire year. I am grateful for the messages from Holy Friends who have let me know they are thinking of me as they enter into the sacraments and walk of this week. They know I cannot participate as I have in the past. So their messages mean the world.
The weight of this week can create all sorts of emotions for me, and maybe it does for you, too. As a convert to the faith, it is when I entered the church 25 years ago. It’s the culmination of the greatest love story ever told. In it, we find the source and summit of our faith—”do this in remembrance of me.”
In this house, We are Easter People.
We love Easter because it signifies hope, resurrection, and new life. It’s the pinnacle of salvation History—God’s love story unfolding that the blood of his sacrifice has been shed for us and makes all things new.
We love Holy Week, too.
The journey of Holy Week brings us to our Calvary and reminds us of our need for salvation and resurrection. In our agony, we can unite to Him and live His passion.
While we are together as a family, life forces us to surrender and sacrifice to participate in these traditions this year. We miss our shrine hopping, Tenebrae services, Holy Thursday service of emptying the tabernacle, and Veneration of the Cross.
Last year ago, on Holy Thursday, I pondered with awe that Jon and I were invited to have our feet washed at mass. I still do.
It seemed fitting, given the state of affairs in our lives. We have been shattered by this disease and all that comes with it, but we can see where God is making us healed and whole this through the entire journey. He was washing us in the cleansing waters and in the blood of His Sacrifice. I am reminded of the song Clean, Natalie Grant sings.
“I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You’re helping me to believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece
There’s nothing too dirty
That You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean,”
Holy Thursday Mass is one of my favorite traditions during the Holy Week and Triduum. It takes my breath away with its beauty. We have so many family memories of entering and honoring this week. We love to encounter God in the sacraments and traditions of Holy Week as a reminder of the sacrifice He made for us.
On Palm Sunday last year, Jon returned to church for the first time since his stroke. After mass, our Pastor approached and invited Jon to be an “apostle” at the Holy Thursday mass.
Jon and I both accepted his invitation.
It would be the first time Jon would walk down the church aisle and approach the altar in months. It would be the first time many people would see the hobble in his step since that second surgery and a stroke that weakened his right side.
It was a mighty vulnerable moment for all of us. And for weeks after, church members would approach us and tell us they were touched by the image and were praying for our family. We need to share those vulnerable moments at the foot of the cross.
Weeks before the invitation to the Holy Thursday mass/washing of the feet, I knelt before Jon, putting on his shoes for the umpteenth time, just as I had each day since his stroke.
On this day, as I slid Jon’s foot into the shoe, I choked back tears until I succumbed. Then I wept. I did not cry for the reason one would think. I wasn’t feeling sad then because I had to care for and support Jon with some basic needs.
I wept because as I knelt at Jon’s feet, I felt the overwhelming and steady presence of Jesus sitting with me as I tied Jon’s shoe once again.
There was supernatural peace that Jesus would be with me every step of the way as I picked up this cross. I did not choose it, but He chose for me—to sanctify me.
As I tied Jon’s shoes, I looked up at Jon and was overcome with deep emotion as God said to me, “This is what Jesus felt when his apostles washed his feet.”
Holy, Sacred Tears streamed down my face and Jon’s as I shared what was on my heart.
What a privilege to care for my husband in this way. When I shared with Jon what a gift it was for me to serve him this way, he cried too.
So you see, you being invited to have our feet washed was an affirmation for me for that sacred and tender moment kneeling before Jon for God.
That encounter with Jesus and Jon was well over a year ago.
For 550+ days, I have put on Jon’s shoes. I have washed his feet almost as many times, too, since. I have made as many meals, if not more, but I broke bread with Jon more times than I can count in these last 3 years.
I have met God in those moments and in the daily bread offered to me. I was open to receiving the Lord whenever it was delivered to me.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the words “daily bread” in the Our Father refer not only to our physical sustenance but also to the Gospel, and especially to Jesus in the holy Eucharist, who confirms and sustains us in our spiritual lives.
As Lent approached last year, I continued being reminded of “the washing of the feet” I was doing daily. I served Jon and God daily with that simple act and several others.
Imagine how humbled I was to join Jon in front of the altar and our children (who had just arrived from school after a 5-hour drive), and the congregation as the priest washed Jon’s feet. Then as I helped him put his shoe back on that foot. Then my feet were washed too.
It’s impossible to articulate all the emotions that surfaced at that moment. Perhaps someday, that experience of having our feet washed at that mass and the experience of washing Jon’s feet and putting on his shoes each day will eventually be its own chapter in a book.
I am missing church this week, but I AM Living the Liturgy. Isn’t that a perfect title for this chapter of my book? That’s a story for another day.
This year, Holy Week looks a bit different for us. Less participation in the Sacraments in church, more meeting Jesus at the moment right in front of us. It is clear to me Jesus has me pressed right up again His Heart in the small ordinary, sacred, Holy Present Moments of caring for Jon and my family.
In our conversation today, Holy Thursday, I mentioned to my spiritual director that I saw God moving in my life—it’s in the daily bread He gives me. I serve Jon in the bread I prepare for him, and Jesus meets me there. I still miss the Eucharist and my Sacraments. Thankfully I was made clean, a state of grace, when I was called to veer off course and pull into a church parking lot for Confession last week.
It was a moment more for Jon than me when our beloved priest came to the car after to pray with Jon. It was a holy anointing moment.
It is my offering to Jon and God as I sit at the foot of the Cross with Mother Mary suffering at the weight of all of it.
My life has become one of service that renders me speechless, exhausted, sad, and overwhelmed but filled with abundant love, grace, and peace because I have been chosen to love and care for this man in his greatest hours of need.
As I assembled another meal for Jon, where we would break bread together, I thought of the moment Jesus gave a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
I pray I love Jon with that same kind of love. When I struggle with impatience, frustration, sadness, worry, and grief, you name it, I pray the Lord gives me the patience, courage, strength, and grace to get through and Mother Mary wraps me in her mantle of protection and hides me from the thief who attempts to slither in and steal our peace.
What a beautiful gift to treasure.
The veil is being lifted—I have been given eyes to see. Yet, I do not feel worthy.
I get to wash Jon’s feet, put on his shoes, meet him where He is, prepare and break bread (and many other feasts, and sometimes cake), and simply love him too, as Jesus commanded us to—Love Like He Loves.
All the while, I get to watch the legacy we have created—our children—witness the glory of God unfold in the most profound way in our deepest suffering at such a time as this.
It is a challenging task.
There is deep, deep pain—our agony in the garden—I cannot put into words. I am clinging to the cross while enduring the pain and the pain of watching Jon and our children experience the same. We have been living Lent.
Like Jesus’ spirit was troubled when He knew His Apostles and friends would turn their back on Him, I know a similar pain in reconciling the hearts who have stepped away. I was reminded of this when I heard the Gospel reading earlier this week, where Jesus shared He knew His followers and beloveds would turn away from Him in His greatest hour of need. None of it made/makes sense.
My prayer for those hearts is, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Please help me to love like you do.”
I know Jesus does not forsake or leave me or anyone. He is in that room with me when I sit in silence, tie the shoes, wash the feet, make the bread, pour the cup, carry the cross, and set my heart on love as I was commanded to do.
May you find hope and peace in these words as you carry the cross that feels too heavy to carry alone—you are never alone.
May grace and love pour out cleansing waters over our families and bless them for generations.
May God shower you with peace, love, new life, and hope this Easter
We are Easter People, and soon I will sing Ale…
Friday, April 7, is Good Friday. What a sacred day when Christ was crucified on the cross and tore the veil to save us for eternity.
It is also the day we start the Divine Mercy Novena. It finishes on Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the Sunday after Easter. I invite you to join my family, me, and several other amazing prayer warrior friends from around the world who will send up prayers and special intentions through this beautiful Novena. P.S. Check out the Divine Mercy Bracelet in our shop
Speaking of Novena’s, Sophia and I chatted with our friend Kristin Bryant, founder and artist of Novena Cards, on the Hear and Now Podcast this week. There was no better guest to share her story and love of Holy Week. I invite you to listen to our conversation about Novena, Holy Week, and God the Father.
May it bless the remainder of your Holy Week and your Easter Season.
I humbly ask in your charity that you continue to pray for our family. We are enduring some hard and holy days, but know when your prayers wash over us, they bring us strength and peace.