Elinor Shea, O.S.U.


As I approached the celebration of Easter this year, images and memories of past years came to mind, especially ones after the Easter Vigil had been restored to all it richness, beauty, and almost magical power to stir hearts and eager souls. Catechumens were baptized. The whole community welcomed its new members, and amid flowers and bells and singing, joy swept into the gathered church. All these spoke to me of hope, of remembrance, a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us, God’s elect. With it came renewed enthusiasm and energy to continue on the journey.

This Easter I’ve been offered a new appreciation and experience of Psalm 137. It is a lamentation, sung by the Israelites, my ancestors in faith, when they needed to address God in a lament rather than a joyful song. It was their time of captivity and Babylonian exile, their harps had been set aside, hung on nearby branches. They could not sing songs of joy and thankfulness when it appeared they had been abandoned.

And so I ask, in this year 2016, can I sing a joyful Easter song? I reflect on our mother, Earth, my homeless brothers and sisters, seeking refuge, desperate and stranded people. How can I sing a new song of Easter hope this year 2016? This question begs an answer.

I look to my faith, to my Church, to my heritage. I hear the challenge through Pope Francis, like Jeremiah, promising: “the mercies of the Lord are not exhausted, they are fresh every morning.” I am given hope for an outpouring of Mercy in this Year of Mercy. I hear this challenging voice saying Laudato Si’— come, take care of our common home.

The real invitation and challenge to me is to sing a new song to my God, and to sing it in the rich beauty of polyphony, harmonizing Exultet, Psalm 137 in lament, a plea for mercy for all, and a strong Laudato Si’. A choir is needed, not a single voice.  The invitation is here. Thank you, Francis, for calling and challenging and leading me and the whole world community. It is mine to say Yes! It is ours to sing a new song in rich harmony on Easter 2016.