My most memorable (powerful) Easter was in 1985, 36 years ago. It was then that the year-long process of exploring the Catholic faith came to fruition as I made my profession of faith and my youngest son Christopher, was baptized at the Easter Vigil. I was attending St. Joseph’s on 40th Street and Fr. John Cullinan was pastor. Fr. Vernon Meyer and Deacon John Meyer were also there. You are probably wondering what made it so memorable…I caught a glimpse of the power, mercy and love of God. It is true what they say, that sacraments are celebrations of lived experiences.
Over the year of exploration in the RCIA, I had to take a good look at me, what faith/Catholicism was offering and then had to make a decision as to whether I was ready to believe and walk as a Catholic. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight and I needed every day of the process. It was a very emotional celebration as I could relate to the symbols of fire, the burning inside of me as I struggled with some things like confession and true presence and then came to understand and experience God’s unconditional love through both. Light that came from candles that dispelled the darkness in the church and the continued search for God’s light in my day. The water…how powerful…it gives life and it takes it away. I renewed my baptismal promises knowing that my baptism will bring me life and death as well. The Word of God, always there to point me in the right direction and help me see I was not alone. And then the bread and wine, common food that sustains and supports my life each day. Without food I will perish figuratively and literally. I have never missed an Easter Vigil since, except last year when COVID hit.
This year will be another powerful Easter for me. It has been a rough year with COVID and losing my youngest son in July. Christopher and I shared a powerful Easter 36 years ago and we share another one this year. This year has also been a year of exploration and lots of questions. They may be different questions, but just as powerful…why were we hit with the pandemic, why did so many people die, why is there so much unrest, why did Christopher have to die, is there eternal life?
The symbols of fire, light, the Word, water, bread and wine and the cross have become my connection to the God I have come to know as compassionate, merciful, patient, and loving. Without the struggles I am not sure this would be another powerful Easter. The cross is not the end of the story. May we all recognize and embrace the power of Easter through our struggles. Because of them, not in spite of them, I can say “Amen” I do believe.
– Mary Permoda