The Paschal Mystery has the power to deeply influence our lives
COLUMBIA—The Paschal Mystery of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, death, resurrection and ascension isn’t just a mystical theological concept. It’s an important spiritual theme that applies to all facets of our daily lives, and is especially relevant during Lent, said Franciscan Sister Pat Rogan during a retreat for directors of religious education held at St. Peter Church on Feb. 10.
During a day of prayer and discussion, Sister Pat showed how the Paschal Mystery could imbue the lives of the faithful at every level.
She used a copy of the San Damiano crucifix, the symbol of the Franciscan order, to illustrate the different events in Christ’s passion and resurrection. The crucifix hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy. The cross is designed in the style of an icon, and includes symbols and figures from the passion, such as a rooster which symbolizes Peter denying Jesus three times as it crowed on the night before the crucifixion.
It is said St. Francis of Assisi was praying before this cross when he heard God tell him to rebuild the church.
“As we pray before this cross, God is asking us to rebuild, and each of us has to figure out how to do that,” Sister Pat said.
On one side of the cross, the figures of the Blessed Mother and St. John look up at Christ. Their nearness to him is a symbol of how the faithful should handle bad times, Sister Pat said.
“We need to live as Mary and John do, and remain close to Jesus during suffering in our own lives,” she said. “How close can we come to Jesus so he can carry us through suffering?”
Jesus’ blood shed during the crucifixion reflects how through the resurrection and Eucharist, his saving power pours “into the community of the faithful to strengthen us for whatever we need to do in life,” she said.
Meditating on Jesus’ death and resurrection is an important way to gain a deeper understanding of faith and find perspective on life’s events, Sister Pat said. The cycle of death and resurrection is evident everywhere in God’s creation, from the change of seasons to the life cycles of humans and all creatures, which ultimately must face death.
While the Paschal Mystery offers comfort and perspective to people facing illness and bereavement, the cycle can also help us cope with other changes in our lives, she said.
Jobs, relationships, prayer lives, and our connection to God all grow and change through the years.
Sometimes, when a friendship ends or a job is lost, it can feel like a death, but through each ending God provides a new birth and beginning, Sister Pat said.
The idea of dying and rising is also important in learning to be a better follower of the Gospel, because living a life of service and giving to others involves a necessary “dying to self” that enables each of us to give more fully.
“The Paschal Mystery has to bee a part of our whole lives because it involves the whole cycle of the world,” Sister Pat said. “There’s a rhythm in life, a rhythm of rising again, and God is with us in good times and bad times. We are Christians with the life of Christ within us.”