When I was a young girl attending Catholic School, I can remember that during the Lenten season all the statues and the crucifix in the Church were covered with purple material. It seemed bleak and sparse with nothing on display. I’m not sure of the true meaning for this ritual. Some say it focuses your attention on the prayers and the gospels or it reminds us of this special time of the Liturgical year when we fast and abstain and atone for our sins. I do remember the heightened sense of what was to come on Easter morning when everything was exposed once more, and the Church was decorated with beautiful flowers and white ribbons in celebration of the most Holy Day of the year. I also remember the anticipation of eating that first chocolate bunny after a chocolate-free Lent!
I also recall as a little kid, I, too, would get purple ribbons and wrap them around the crucifixes and statues in our house during Lent. (I was a little intense when it came to religion.) I kept a vigil of silence in my house during the hours of 12 noon and 3 pm, which we believed was the time Jesus hung on the cross. I was pretty good at ignoring my brother during that time period, my dad was usually at work, and my mom was always busy doing some kind of chore so it was easy for me to drop out. I was an introvert anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal.
As I grew up, I eventually stopped shrouding the statues and crucifixes. Most churches have stopped doing the same. When I had children, I didn’t practice the rituals of the purple cloths or silence, since it was impossible with my chatty girls in the house always having something to say.
But today I am alone, social distancing in a world that’s gone awry. The churches are closed, things seem dark and bleak and sparse, and it is silent in the house. At three I will turn on a televised Good Friday ceremony of a reenactment on how Jesus was tortured and crucified and died for our sins. I can’t help to think how dark and bleak and sparse it must have seemed to Jesus as He looked at a world that had gone against Him. How desperate and frightened His loved ones must have been to see Him suffering.
I heard a priest say recently that Jesus went through this because He loves us. And because Jesus truly loves us, we should know that true love has no fear. We should not be afraid of darkness or suffering or the unknown. This knowledge and belief bring me hope in the difficult time we are experiencing today. Even though we are alone and lonely, and many are getting sick and sadly dying, we should keep strong because, like Christ, we will rise again. This Covid-19 won’t beat us, and we will be stronger and braver for having gone through this. There will be light and a beautiful celebration when we come out of this and are together again.
Know that you are loved. Keep the faith. Keep strong. Be not afraid.