The Expectant Hope of Easter
St. John the Evangelist bravely stands vigil alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, with his own mother, "looking on from afar" (Matthew 27:55). In the most incredible act of love, Jesus strains to fill His lungs with air, and with just a few words, gives Mary to the world and institutes her spiritual motherhood when He proclaims from the Cross, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He says to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" (John 19:26-27a).
This incredible gift of Mary as a mother is not only for John but for every disciple. For you and for me. At that moment, each disciple becomes a beloved son and daughter of this woman who epitomizes every virtue and is full of grace. Mary, chosen by God to be the Mother of His only Begotten Son, is then beautifully given in the act of sheer love to be the Mother of every one of us. Her life, an example of trust and faith, illustrates the goodness and fidelity of God. Her portrait of holiness provides each of us a reason to hold on to hope. She is indeed the Mother of Hope; the Mother of Expectant Hope.
New life springs forth at the end of winter; it is not by accident we find Easter amid this season. As we emerge from the cold, dark, barren winter, especially here in the Northeast, every harbinger of warmer weather and longer days brings lightness and a glimmer of the joy of rebirth. Even on the coldest, darkest night, we do not despair as we remember the temporary nature of each day, knowing soon enough we'll once again bask in the sun. Lent can hold a similar quality of bleakness and maybe even an air of endlessness for those longing for their sacrificed item or the singing of the Alleluia.
Perseverance is rewarded when Easter arrives, reminding us how Jesus brings new life to our world, our Church, and our hearts—not only in the redemptive work He accomplished on the Cross 2000 years ago but by His glorious workings still today. Our hope in Jesus is never misplaced. He always keeps promises, with the greatest of these being our redemption and the hope of heaven.
In the ten-plus years I've worked in women's ministry, I have been blessed to meet many incredible women. Women typically go on retreat with hearts filled with many questions hoping this time of stepping away and listening to God will help them find answers. Some arrive in anxiety, filled with doubt, even on the edge of despair. They've come seeking some nugget of wisdom or a word to restore their brokenness or sustain them on their spiritual journey.
Each of my retreats begins with the Rosary—a meditation on the Joyful Mysteries and a look at Mary's incredible example of trusting in God's plan. Of relying on God's promise to bring good, even when you are unsure what it will look like or how it will be accomplished. Whatever follows during the retreat, we believe this special time in prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary has laid a foundation for retreatants to receive whatever graces the Lord has prepared for them that day.
We pray with expectant hope for the plan of sheer goodness God has for us. We pray with our spiritual Mother, whose maternal care never fails in leading us from sorrow to joy. We pray to be, as Mary—trusting, obedient, humble, and hopeful. Spring brings new life and new beginnings. We can behold with Mary the joy of Jesus' Resurrection shared in the Easter season and how this refreshes and strengthens our resolve to remember that He has overcome every trouble this world may bring. Holding the Rosary, as if we are holding Mary's hand, we emerge from the darkness of Lent into the Light of Easter with our hope renewed.
About Allison Gingras
Allison Gingras works for Family Rosary, Catholic Mom, and the Diocese of Fall River as a new media specialist. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series including her volumes—The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She hosts A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras and co-hosts the Catholic Momcast podcast.