Elisabeth 2Elisabeth van Dijl, one of Minsteracres’retreat team, talks about preparations for our Holy Week retreat.

The day dawned bright at Minsteracres this morning. In the liturgy we heard about Jesus making waves in Jerusalem. Who does this lad from Nazareth think he is? For now they won’t touch him because his time has not yet come. But two weeks from today the time for abuse will have arrived in full force and they will strike him down and crucify him.

We are working hard on the Holy Week retreat. Every year we try to find ways to experience the Passion as if we haven’t been through it countless times before. How can our eyes be opened to what it means this time around, in the lives we are living right now? How can this year’s retreat lead to personal renewal?

In 2016 it’s a March enterprise, which means we seem to be factoring in that impatient longing for winter to end. Other years we had signs of spring: lambs in the fields, blossoms and flowers. But none of that has appeared so far. We are waiting for nature’s rebirth. Which might be the right attitude with which to face the days leading up to the renewal we are envisioning at Easter.

As planners of the retreat we ask ourselves: what is the best way to set out on the Easter journey, with Jesus and the people who surrounded him, this year? How can we actively re-live that journey which starts when Jesus was in full swing and surrounded by admirers, and carries on to his betrayal and abandonment, moving on to that Friday in which his suffering culminates in shocking death?

And that’s not the end: we will have to continue, as you always do after loss, to the emptiness and loneliness of the day after. What do you do when there’s nothing left to do? On Saturday we wander in the void. But then as night descends we will celebrate the Easter Vigil and welcome the light which comes with the new day and be there at the empty grave. Resurrection is possible!

Living the Passion is retracing those steps of Jesus as they touch our existence. For we too have gone through disappointments, failures, dead-ends, and loss of loved ones. On our Easter journey we hope to find new routes to spiritual strength, sustenance and stability.

As you know the Pope has proclaimed this year to be one of mercy. Therefore in the Holy Week Retreat mercy will also play a part. Whose are the faces of mercy that Jesus encounters on the road to Calvary? Who reaches out to him and how? Who is there for him with their compassion and empathy? And how does Jesus’ mercy to his people become evident?

We are hopeful that all these instances of mercy, found on the way to Easter, will bring us closer to receiving and living God’s boundless love in our own lives.

P.S.I have decided to give up worry for Lent. Who will join me?

I feel encouraged by the following rhyme:

As you ramble on thru life sister
whatever be your goal
keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole