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Easter reminds us that death is not the end

A first century ancient tomb with the stone rolled aside in Israel, similar to the type of resting place that Jesus would have been buried in.

A first century ancient tomb with the stone rolled aside in Israel, similar to the type of resting place that Jesus would have been buried in. Who would you honor during Tomb Sweeping Day?

During a recent visit with our sisters in Taiwan, I had a new experience that touched me very deeply.

The Taiwanese people annually observe “Tomb Sweeping Day.” During this national holiday, families visit the tombs of their family members to clean the area, arrange bouquets of flowers and to pray for their deceased loved ones.

We visited two tombs during the holiday — that of Mother Marie Gratia Luking who went to China in 1920 and fled to Taiwan in 1945. She was a remarkable woman, cut out of the same cloth as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. To pray at her tomb with our sisters, to recall the remarkable work of the Sisters of Providence in China and Taiwan, put me in touch with how Providence continues to work through human persons who love God.

We also visited the grave of Sister Regina Mary Wallace, who died in Taiwan in 2012. Again, we cleaned, arranged flowers and prayed. As at Mother Marie Gratia’s tomb, I was so aware of the designs of Providence lived out in the life of this intelligent, gentle and strong Sister of Providence.

As we commemorate Holy Week and especially Good Friday, I find myself thinking often about Tomb Sweeping Day. While at the tombs of our sisters, we were one small group among hundreds of groups. We noticed expressions of raw grief — tears, anguished faces, and comforting embraces. We observed quiet prayer and the tender laying of bouquets. We heard families telling stories of their loved ones and enjoying the sharing of memories.

Aren’t these the movements of these last days of Holy Week? Through the Gospel stories, we participate in the Last Supper, walk the Way of the Cross and witness the crucifixion of Jesus. In doing so, we touch into the raw grief of acknowledging the presence of death in our lives and the life of the world’s people.

As we welcome the Light of Christ during the Easter vigil and sing our alleluias once again, we feel renewed in the certainty of a life that never ends, a life already entered into by our beloved ones who have crossed over from death to life.

Let us then pray with one another during this most Holy Week — that we may continue to give witness to that life that never ends, to that Love that never abandons us, to that hope that keeps us going in the face of all sorts of difficulties and trials. Let us sing our alleluias with joy and energy — knowing that Providence never fails us.

Happy Easter to you and yours! Know you are held in the prayer of the Sisters of Providence every day.

Sister Denise Wilkinson, SP
General Superior

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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5 Comments

  1. Mary Ann Hogan on April 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Another great reflection for us, Denise. Thanks for sharing your thinking and making the message of Providence so easy to understand.

    Also, a very belated happy birthday to you—one month late….have been thinking good things for you every day since March 16th when I just never completed making the actual birthday call.

    Hope your Easter is wonderful.

    Mary Ann

  2. Martine Meuwissen on April 17, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Thank you Denise for this lovely story who reminds me my childhood going with my family to clean the graves .
    thank you ! Congratulations for your nomination as “a woman with good influences, I could add my experience!

    Holy Tridium and Happy Easter. Martine

  3. Rev. Sandy Dodson on April 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Blessings upon you as well, Sr. Denise! Tomb Sweeping. I like it. It is a worthy spiritual discipline to honor, grieve, repent and embrace life, not forgetting our own tombs that can become the Spirit’s womb.

    Alleluia!

    Former Costa High School student, Galesburg, IL

    • Sister Denise Wilkinson on April 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Why thanks, Sandy, former Costa student. Hope you are well and happy. Denise

  4. Jo Riner on April 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    You rock, Sister Denise. Another grand reflection shared. As I sit here in a stuffy parked car in the rain waiting for my daughter’s school day to end, I realized I enjoy reading the Sisters of Providence site more than watching funny cat videos. I experience a deep, connected joy. With grateful love and a happy belated birthday, Jo

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