Believe In the Mystery

Apr 23, 2023

Fr. Michael Schleupner shared the posts below with us as he entered Holy Week. They are insights that we can carry with us throughout the Easter season. These posts continue his series on Spiritual Wellness (check our blog for all of his previous posts in the series) and this component is essential to his philosophy. Let’s learn more about the importance of the paschal mystery as we prayerfully read below.

Spiritual Wellness – 14
Believe in the Mystery – part 1catholic retreat, catholic women's retreat

Dear Friends,
Believing in the mystery, the paschal mystery, is at the heart of Christianity. Here the word mystery means a truth that we can only know through God’s revelation and that we cannot fully understand. The word paschal derives from the Greek word for Passover and now refers to both Passover and Easter. So, the paschal mystery is the passing over of Jesus Christ from death to new life. We believe that this mystery can also be part of our human experience.

In the course of our lives, there are death experiences, experiences of dying to self or to something in our lives. For example:
Dying to our youth when we realize that we are now in middle age or beyond.
Dying to our wholeness when we become aware that we are broken, incomplete, or at least limited in certain ways.
Dying to our dreams when we learn that certain things that we had hoped for will not happen.
Dying to our idealism when we realize that life is not always fair or perfect.
Dying to our image of God when we consider a fuller understanding of Scripture and how God really relates to us.
Dying to our sense of Church when we learn of its humanity and imperfection.
Dying to a relationship when a loved one who has been at the center of our life has died.
Dying to a marriage when we or our partner abandons it.
Dying to a son or daughter when they will no longer relate to us.
Dying to my self-centeredness when I feel called to grow in empathy and compassion for others.
Dying to my good health when I am advised of some chronic or serious physical condition.
I am sure that there are other examples of death that each of us could name. Please take some time to think about your own life and name the dyings that have been there.

Beleive in the Mystery – part 2

Dear Friends,
As I said before, believing in the mystery, the paschal mystery, is essential. It is the mystery of dying and coming to new, fuller, even risen life. This paschal mystery is the core or foundation of our faith. We have just celebrated this in our liturgies of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Again, as I discussed, we all have dyings, death experiences in our lives. How are we to deal with these? What does the risen Christ or the paschal mystery offer us in these experiences? To answer this, let’s look to what the first disciples experienced and did following the death of Jesus.

On that first Good Friday and the days right after that, they were grieving terribly, feeling heartbroken and lost.

On that first Easter Sunday, they were uplifted, but they were still feeling empty and confused even after hearing reports that Jesus had risen and even after experiencing him alive in a different way.

In the forty days after the resurrection, they continued grieving their loss while also trying to accept their new and different relationship with Jesus.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, they had no choice but to let go of their past experience of Jesus who had told them not to hold on to him.

And finally, at Pentecost, they received a new Spirit for the life that they were already beginning to live.

I wonder if we, in the death experiences we have, can identify with the first disciples. Maybe we have similar feelings. Maybe we go through a similar process with those feelings. The question then is: what helps us to deal with these feelings and come to a new spirit or be open to the Spirit for living? I am thinking of three helps that may be needed.

We need to maintain some personal prayer. We need to keep talking with God and listening to allow God to speak to us.

We need to maintain communion with God, with Christ through Communion. Holy Communion, the Eucharist, is a strong, maybe indispensable support for coming to new life.

Last, we need the symbol of the cross or the crucifix. This needs to have a primary place in our physical, mental, and spiritual vision. It keeps us connected with the One who died and then rose from the dead.

These are my thoughts on how we can live the paschal mystery even now, during the course of our lives. Believing in this is an essential ingredient to our spiritual wellness.

~Fr. Michael Schleupner

Inspiration for the above from The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I.

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