Holy Saturday is always a strange sort of day. Christ isn’t in the Blessed Sacrament in any church, and you’re still mourning his death. But you know the end of the story. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to not know he was going to rise. But that’s the way we Christians live: with our eyes on the end of the story.
Today though, our missionaries encountered a lot of people who don’t have such far-reaching vision. This morning half of our group prayed outside the nearest abortion clinic with signs that had messages of mercy on them. Every car driving down Elston Ave. slowed down to read them. Some honked in approval, some rolled their eyes and some-mostly the ones who had just pulled out of the clinic parking lot-frowned and sped off after one quick glance.
Each missionary had a carnation that they had to give to a person of their choice today. Some wanted to give them to the sidewalk escorts from the clinic but their warm offer was turned down cold. These women were so hardened to us, I wondered if they were really at peace with themselves.
Part of our group went to a different soup kitchen this morning and then walked the streets of downtown engaging people in conversations about love, God, Easter and lots of other things. A few more carnations found a home: a lady on a park bench, a worker in a coffee shop and a little girl whose birthday it was. They also decorated our cars with window markers with sayings like, “Holla if you love the Fatha” and “We Love Easter!”
The other group came home and ran another K4J camp with 20 kids, teaching them about Easter and what that means for their lives. The kids didn’t want to leave and made all the missionaries promise to come back next year. One made cards for us all and another brought us all candy.
At the Easter Vigil, one of our missionaries was asked to help Father light the Easter candle. He picked Taylor, who had been talking all week about wanting to be a light in the world and do something big for Christ. Her candle was the first light from the fire which she spread first to the priests, but then throughout the whole congregation.
After a beautiful and moving liturgy, all the missionaries piled into cars for our surprise Resurrection Party: frozen yogurt on State Street followed by a massive dance party. “Christ is Risen!” they would yell out the windows as we drove through the city, “He rose for you! Happy Easter everybody!”
I hope you all have the same joy and zeal as these girls did on these missions. And if you don’t, maybe you should come for our next Chicago Mercy Missions.