By Susan Ciancio

Fr. Mike Schmitz recently said that “there’s no greater life that can possibly be lived than the life as a Catholic Christian.”

And in the life of a Catholic Christian, there’s no more sorrowful nor more joyous a week than Holy Week. As we approach the Triduum, let us spend time each day reflecting on Christ’s life and Passion.

Today, let us transport ourselves back to a time when Jesus walked the earth, when He cured lepers, when He healed the sick, and when He preached about His kingdom. Let us take time in quiet solitude to remember these real-life events. And let us promise Him that we will try to become more like Him—that we will shine His light for others to see as we minister to the sick, speak out against injustices, evangelize the truths of our faith, and work toward healing broken relationships.

Tomorrow, on Holy Thursday, let us reflect on the fact that Jesus instituted the Eucharist this very night. He broke bread with His Apostles, saying: “Take it; this is My body.” On this same night, Jesus tells these men—His closest friends—that one would betray Him. Then He goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking His Father if this cup could be taken from Him. Though He is God, He is also human. He knew He could feel pain—pain from the scourgings, from the thorns, from the heavy weight of the cross, and from the nails. But the cup would not be taken from Him. God would not allow Himself to be immune to the pain that human beings would inflict upon Him. He had made a promise to us. In order to rise, Jesus must die.

And so we mourn on Good Friday. Our souls agonize as we see Him whipped. Our hearts ache as He falls not once, not twice, but three times as He carries the cross He will be hanged on. Our stomachs wretch as men drive gigantic nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. We weep with Mary and John as they stand helplessly and watch as Christ bleeds to death on the cross. We tremble with the earth as it shakes when He dies. And our hearts grow as cold and dark as the skies when we realize that all of this is because of our sins.

On Saturday, we reflect on Christ’s sacrifice. We wait with breathless anticipation. We hope. We pray. We give thanks.

On Sunday, we awaken to an empty tomb, to excited voices, and to the joy we feel deep down in our hearts because we know, beyond all doubt, that He has risen! Jesus is alive! And we weep again, but this time not with sorrow at His broken and torn body. Not with guilt and self-loathing. We weep with joy, for we know that a new life has been given to us. The gates of heaven are open, and we decide our destination.

Our actions, our choices, and our decisions will determine whether we spend eternity with Christ in heaven or whether we lose an eternity of peace, love, and goodness.

That empty tomb ensured this open gate.

So yes, “there’s no greater life that can possibly be lived than the life as a Catholic Christian.”

This week proves it.

Happy Easter! Alleluia, alleluia! He is risen!

Image courtesy of Luis Felipe Tun