A Very Solemn Easter (This Year)

Featured Art: “Redemption” by Called1-for-Jesus on DeviantArt. © 2013-2020.


This year, Easter celebrations and the Paschal season are being “welcomed” in a remarkably different way: millions of people practicing social distancing, bathing and washing their hands regularly—and while many of us are staying home for longer periods of time—we are all connected by that great, invisible network that is the World Wide Web (Internet).

I do have to say one thing though: despite the convenience livestreaming/digitally recording church services brings to all of us honoring the stay-in-place policies mandated by our state governments—there is indeed a “God-shaped” hole in the hearts of the Faithful who long to experience the Mass in person. In other words, for the world’s billion Catholics and the over 260 million Orthodox Christians, many of us are prohibited from receiving the Holy Eucharist and being in His literal presence in churches everywhere.

Due to the—you guessed it—spread of COVID-19.

Despite the Easter-related messages and letters I have received in my inbox stating that this pandemic too shall pass—nevertheless, my mind, heart and soul doesn’t feel at peace about the situation this planet is literally in at this very moment (and will be for at least another year, many experts are now advising the public).

The only way I feel truly at peace, I find, is when I attend the Mass and stare longingly at Christ on the cross (crucifix)—His eyes and face contorted, full of utter pain and sorrow, and yet…there is something else too.

Divine Compassion.

SANTÍSIMO CRISTO DE LA DULCE MUERTE by Francisco Romero Zafra (2014)
http://franciscoromerozafra.com/obra/

To be honest, I feel as though the world’s Catholic and Orthodox Christians are more spiritually inclined than most Protestants I know (especially of the “Evangelical,” “Baptist,” “non-denominational,” and “Pentecostal” types).

(More on this later…perhaps even in a future article.) 😉

But I have yet to see a fellow “fundamentalist” Protestant not be humbled by such realistic and gruesome imagery as the sculptures and stained glass windows created by the hands of devout Catholics.

That goes double for the atheists and agnostics out there. You know who y’all are. 😜

Therefore, in my very long and continuously winding journey towards the Roman Catholic Church (again, for those who don’t know, I’m converting over from my childhood-reared Pentecostalism)…I can only now understand why the Crucifix is such a powerful statement to certain Christians, more so than others.

A close Protestant friend of mine once asked me whether Catholics believe in the Resurrection. We were teenagers, and she had just accompanied me to Mass. I realized how striking and maybe even disturbing it might have been to her to be confronted with the gigantic, realistic crucifix up front, which I was so used to I hadn’t even thought to forewarn her of. I think she wondered how, if we believe in Christ’s Resurrection, we could be putting so much emphasis on the disturbing image of His dead body.

Later, when it began to dawn on me what the crucifix meant, there was a period of months in my life where I found it almost too hard to look at one directly. Even now, on a bad day, it can be hard. Christ is just so exposed, so vulnerable, and I don’t like to be reminded that “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. (Jn 12:26).” And where He is is exactly where I don’t want to be. I want to be His servant, sure, but I don’t want to go all the way to the Cross. But, of course, there can be no resurrection without death first. It’s no good hoping for one without the other.

~ Anna O’Neil, When the crucifix makes you want to look away, remember this old writer’s rule (2016)

In other words, we cannot and should not be thanking and praising Jesus as THE Lord and Saviour of all if He never took the punishment that we lowly sinners deserved—as evidenced time and time again in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

This is why, in the Western world, Catholics are often associated as being the “people of the Cross (Crucifix).”

But at the same time, Protestants shouldn’t be hogging the Resurrection story and the Empty Tomb either—personally speaking as someone growing up with a devout, fanatical Pentecostal convert (originally from Taiwanese Buddhism) of a mother.

Being a Christian isn’t just about showing up at church, reading the Bible together, singing a few songs, say some prayers, watch some VeggieTales™  or Superbook™ …and then see ya next week.

It’s so much more than that.

Because the truth of the matter is: you ought to be as passionately filled with the love and devotion of and to Christ (and finding His Real Presence in the Eucharist) as much as Pastor Francis Chan here:


So, in the midst of this time of anxiety, depression and great suffering, may we always remember that Christ is King, keep one another in service and in devoted prayer; and to quote Blessed Saint Pope John John II here:

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

God bless us, everyone! 😇


FOR FURTHER READING:

During Easter, Some Religious Leaders Display Ungodliness

“Who Shaped” — The Closet Professor

For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. (KJV) ( Amos 4:13 ) If you haven’t noticed lately, we are surrounded […]

via Who Shaped — The Closet Professor

An Open Eulogy to John Allen Chau, a Modern St. Sebastian

At night, as he sat in the dark listening to the sound of the turtle-dove in the trees, he felt the face of Christ looking intently at him. The clear blue eyes were gentle with compassion; the features were tranquil; it was a face filled with trust. ‘Lord, you will not cast us away any longer,’ he whispered, his eyes fixed upon that face. And then the answer seemed to come to his ears: ‘I will not abandon you.’ Bowing his head he strained his ears for the sound of that voice again; but the only thing he could hear was the singing of the turtle-dove. The darkness was thick and black. Yet the priest felt that for one instant his heart had been purified.

~ Shusaku Endo, Silence (an excerpt from Chapter 6)

 

In my last piece for this blog, I had very clearly stated that I was moving away from mainstream Christianity and “becoming” a deist. Here, I want to clarify further by what I had written and published a little over 2 months ago:

One sunny Friday back in April of this year, I did not expect to be welcomed again by the Roman Catholic students at UC Berkeley. But that is exactly what happened—not only did I feel welcomed by the group, the ladies tabling that day out on Sproul Plaza were amazed not only by how much knowledge of the Church and its teachings I have committed to memory; but also led to one of the girls (also my former classmate from 3 years prior) to exclaim that it was “a sign that God has appointed you to be here.”

Truer words had never been spoken, because within a matter of weeks, I started going back to Mass more, praying the Holy Rosary and even going to my first Confession.

But just when everything looked like rainbows and butterflies, tragedy struck home when our last male cat, Lennie, was seized by Animal Control authorities and euthanized on June 2, 2018.

Continue reading An Open Eulogy to John Allen Chau, a Modern St. Sebastian

Special Sunday Edition: I’m a Christian Deist (Now that Kavanaugh has been appointed to be a Supreme Court Justice)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.

~ 1 John 4:13 (RSVCE)

Hello everyone,

It’s painful for me to even consider writing this piece—as I know it may be deemed heretical in the eyes of many of my most devout Protestant and Catholic friends and family alike—but over this past summer, I have been experiencing severe psychological, emotional and spiritual burnout. Although I will add that I have been mentally planning to write such an op-ed as this one for at least a year’s time now.

But just a few months prior, many were expecting me to take a magical leap of faith as I had finally decided to go to my very first Confession in a Roman Catholic setting—despite being raised a Pentecostal Protestant. Of course, if Confession wasn’t intimidating enough, then taking the Eucharist should be even more so. Because if there is one thing Catholics are doctrinally right about, it’s that they earnestly and honestly look at the Host (bread) and wine as more than mere symbols of Christ’s body and blood.

THEY ARE HIS BODY AND BLOOD.

Continue reading Special Sunday Edition: I’m a Christian Deist (Now that Kavanaugh has been appointed to be a Supreme Court Justice)