On a beautiful day last spring, I was in Lourdes on a pilgrimage with one of my dearly beloved teenagers. It had been almost three months since my father passed away. I know he would have loved to have been in Lourdes because he had a great devotion to our Blessed Mother.
In fact, his funeral had been held on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We hadn’t planned it that way. It just so happened that Thursday had the least amount of traffic for relatives travelling. From the time my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, I had longed to take her Lourdes. We found out we were going a few days before he passed away.
The Life-Sized Stations
On the last day before we left Lourdes, I made the Stations of the Cross on the hill above the beautiful basilica. My daughter went with another group of pilgrims. I didn’t know what to expect; only that one of my dear friends had told me not to miss these stations and they were kind of hidden.
The stations were cast in life size bronze and incredibly beautiful. There is something about a life size statue that touches the psyche like the pint size ones can’t. I had not expected anything on that scale.
As we walked up the hill, the pavement eventually turned to gravel, and the reflections given by the priest at each station reminded me of how much my Dad had suffered in his life, and my Mom as well. The way grew steeper as we walked. Finally, we reached the final stations: Jesus dies on the Cross, Jesus is taken down from the Cross, and Jesus is laid in the tomb.
The last station was hewn from the rock. The added realism of the stone tomb made my heart sink. The fourteenth Station is always so sad; even though we know that Easter will come eventually, our hearts ache with grief. We walked quietly around the corner to find that on the other side of the tomb of great sadness, the immense rock was rolled away and the tomb was empty. The tomb was empty.
There was a Latin inscription hung to the right which read, Resurrexit sicut dixit. He has risen as he said. I burst into tears when I saw those words. I had not asked for a sign. The grief I carried was almost unconscious in my heart. But the same dear Lord who knows the number of blades of grass in the field, the count of the hairs on our heads, and the number of sands on the seashore knew that I needed a sign. He anticipates our needs before we do because he knows us inside out and loves us with an infinite love.
The Holy Saturday Jelly Beans
My Dad used to crack open a bag of jelly beans on Holy Saturday at noon. Lent was officially over in our house at noon on Holy Saturday. I was never sure as a kid if it was that way for the entire church, but that’s the way it was in our house. Opening the bag, he’d announce with great gusto “Resurrexit sicut dixit.” After I was married, if we talked on the phone on Easter, he would say it again, “Resurrexit sicut dixit.”
At the moment in Lourdes when I read those words above the tomb, I knew exactly where he was. Resurrexit sicut dixit.
Mary Walsh is a homeschooling mother and freelance writer. She’s the author of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Bethlehem Town’, illustrated by her daughter Margaret. Her newest book is Genetopia. This article first appeared in Touchstone.