The Paschal Mystery

Photography © by Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
Photography © by Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
Photography © by Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

Burning but not consumed! This was the strange sight that Moses beheld in the desert—a bush on fire yet contained. Such a strange phenomenon! Moses moved closer to examine the mystery before him. “No, Moses, stop where you are and remove your sandals for this is holy ground!” This was no natural mystery as Moses would now realize, but one whose depths he would not be able to grasp. But it was precisely here that Moses was sent to lead the Israelites out of slavery into freedom—a saving act—a foreshadowing of Jesus, for Moses also said that God would raise up “a prophet like me” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The “I am” that spoke to Moses came among us in the person of Jesus who said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am” (John 8:28). He uses this expression forty-five times in John’s Gospel. Jesus lived our life on a day-to-day basis. But when His hour had come to culminate His saving act—to lead us out of the slavery of sin into the freedom of the children of God, He paid our penalty through His Passion and death and gave us new life through His Resurrection. The sacrifice of the Lamb—this is the Paschal Mystery!

While Moses was performing his daily duty of tending the flocks of his father-in-law God drew him to Himself by captivating his attention in order to prepare him for a new mission.

The Father also drew Jesus to Himself while He was being baptized to validate His mission through a voice which resounded over the waters, “This is My beloved Son!”

God likewise draws our attention to Himself through mysteries, natural or supernatural, that appear on the horizons of our lives. Are any of these moments still with us as mysteries that we continue to ponder?

Growing up, my house, one of only three on our street, was set against the edge of the woods. One morning after a very cold wintry night, I went outside to a fresh-fallen snow and proceeded to enter the path leading into the woods. As I stood at the entrance of the path I was transfixed by the beauty before me—snow and ice hanging from every tree branch. How long I stood there, despite the freezing temperatures, I do not know. Beauty had captivated my soul ! God knows how to grab our attention whether it be through beauty, through truth or through goodness. He places a mystery before us and allows us to plumb its depths. Like Moses we stand on holy ground.

We are reminded in Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶571 that there is a central mystery in our lives, the Paschal Mystery—Christ’s cross and Resurrection—which stands at the center of the Good News. It is this that drove the Apostles and those who followed them to proclaim it to the world. To do this the Apostles, not only had to come to terms with the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus, but to ponder the events that they had witnessed. They had to be inserted into the depths of this astounding Mystery. This Mystery became the very epicenter of their lives shattering all their previous plans, attitudes and expectations.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap. reminds us that when we celebrate the Triduum and Easter we are not simply commemorating a past event, “but a mystery.” We pass from “spectators to actors. It is up to us therefore to choose what part we want to play in the drama…no one can remain neutral; not take a position means to take a very precise one.”

The Son of God left His heavenly home to come among us, to become one of us and to sacrifice His life, as a free offering to the Father, in a brutal manner, to save us and to restore us to His Father.

As we stand on holy ground and look deeply into the Mystery, where do we see ourselves within it? How do we experience its presence on a daily basis? What is Christ asking of us? Jesus died that we might have life. And what of us?

Sister Mary Colombiere, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

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Alhambra, California 91801

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By Carmelite Sisters

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service