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Symbol and Sacrifice

March 30, 2010

By Sister Patti

Symbols and sacrifices are a major part of our Holy Week journey. There are so many symbols that speak to me about this sacred time and also bring up symbols used and sacrifices made in religious life.

The palm, the washing of the feet, the Eucharist, the cross, the fire, the empty tomb, flowers, colored and hidden eggs, bunnies(especially chocolate ones!) are all symbols of this week leading up to the celebration of Easter. Let us look at some of these symbols.

The palm – celebration of going to Jerusalem, reminds me that joy can turn into sorrow, that celebration can turn into grieving and that my ways are not God’s ways. In religious life this is so apparent when you are changing from one ministry or community to another. There is a joy in newness as you also grieve the loss of what was. You want to get settled quickly into your new place and then things happen and you end up with a foot in each place!

In January I was supposed to end my new membership ministry as I began classes for an MA in theology. Today the end of March, because of an injury to the sister replacing me, I am still involved and have committed myself for one more month. I am ready to focus all of my energy on study and yet the call that I have heard to assist has been one I have needed to listen too.

I have always loved the symbolism of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. The disciples were so used to leaders who were served and yet Jesus showed them how to truly lead – as a servant to others. They also needed to let Jesus serve them.

I reflect on when I allow others to serve me. I am a “doer” and “giver” and yet when I look at the symbol of Jesus serving the disciples – those who are to serve – I realize that I also need to allow Jesus to serve me – and that may be allowing other people to do for me sometimes. In religious life we tend to put expectations on ourselves to be doers – to see the needs of those around us and to serve them. Letting Jesus serve me is allowing myself to spend some significant time in prayer and reflection. It can be hard for me to slow down and let go of other expectations I have for myself. Quiet and prayer mean a letting go of doing to just “be.” I have to remind myself that it is when I give myself this time is when I receive the gifts that then allow me to continue to minister.

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