An Easter Story… Hope Lives On

Happy Easter! We finally came back from Las Vegas after staying at the beautiful Palazzo Hotel for the past 6 days!

Tiebens Family at Palazzo Hotel Las Vegas

I’ve been awake since 4:30 am.  Funny, I have lived in the US for over 20 years but this Easter morning, I woke up thinking of how we celebrated the dawn of Easter morning as a young Catholic girl in Marikina, Philippines.

Lent was observed for an entire week, starting on Palm Sunday.  For the entire week, we made sacrifices, whether it was giving up our favorite meals, toys, activities, etc.  We were constantly mindful that we are making sacrifices to show thanks to our beloved Jesus Christ who gave his life to us, so that we may live life and live that abundantly.

I remember vividly how we gave up eating meat for the entire week and how we spent most of our days attending different church services.  Typically, there were also religious retreats being offered in the stadiums.  I remember we would go to Araneta Coliseum for 3 days straight to hear Father Sonny Ramirez remind us of God’s goodness…

Starting on Wednesday, “flagellants” would parade the streets, whipping themselves with self made whips, to confess their sins to the world,  show atonement for their sins and share in Christ’s pain and sacrifice.

On Maundy Thursday, we would go to church at 3pm to witness the “Washing of the Apostles Feet” – to re-live Christ’s humility and servanthood.

Then, on Good Friday, we would visit 5 or more churches to observe what was more commonly known as “Visita Iglesia” or church visits.  While at those churches, we would follow the “Paths of the Stations of the Cross” re-living the most critical stages and sufferings of Christ prior to his crucifixion and resurrection.

On Black Saturday, we just stay at home pretty much in a somber mood all day as we weren’t really supposed to be happy since Christ just died.  In the evening, around 8pm or so, the church bells would ring signifying that He has risen!  I remember my Mom telling us, “Okay, it’s time to jump from the couch because if you do, you will get taller!”

Funny, looking back, I never even thought twice about her advice, all I knew was I wanted to be tall so I jump on and out of the couch many, many times as the church bells rang! Oh to have a child-like faith!

We would go to bed early that night because the highlight of the entire Lenten Week comes tomorrow morning…

At 4:30am on Easter Sunday, we would walk to church, anticipating what’s called “Salubong” or “The Resurrection” – basically an actual re-enactment of how Jesus’s mother, the Virgin Mary, went from sadness to joy upon seeing the Risen Christ.  From Maundy Thursday, all the images and statues of the Virgin Mary were shrouded in Black Veil and on Easter Sunday morning, that black veil would be lifted up by a very special “Angel” – who came down from heaven to lift up the darkness and sadness and bring back hope and joy not only to Mary but to the world!  (Please watch video below to see actual re-enactment)

The last time I remembered celebrating this way was Easter 1988.  In 2006, when I made a commitment to accept Christ as my Personal Lord and Savior and leader of my life, I realized that Easter is more that the observation of traditions and rituals. Easter meant so much more than Spring being here or a bunny “laying eggs”.

Why was I inspired to share this with you?  I guess, re-living Easter Sundays from my past is my way of:

  • Sharing with you my heritage and a special part of who I am.
  • Appreciating where I came from yet looking forward to where I’m going.
  • Respecting traditions of my youth, but choosing to create a new one for my family.
  • Lent is not just about ceremonies but a time for INTROSPECTION, GRATITUDE AND RENEWAL.
  • Easter is not just about bunnies laying eggs or fancy brunches but signifies SACRIFICE and HOPE.
  • It’s not about doing things out of obligation but doing them from the heart.

What does Easter really mean to me?  It’s the celebration of God’s love for us, that He sacrificed his one and only Son, that we may find HOPE in Him and in all things!

In the words of my dearest Friend, Author, Speaker, Trainer, Kereakos Zuras, I quote:

“Greatest man in history, named Jesus, had no servants, yet they called him Master. Had no degree, yet they called him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today. Re-post if you believe with all your heart.”

Yes, Kereakos, I believe with all my heart…

In our day to day lives of pursuing our dreams, it’s so easy to get side tracked focusing on the HOWs of doing things, not realizing that the WHYs and the WHATs are just as important.

My family now has new Easter Sunday traditions.  We believe that Easter is a reminder that “hope lives on”.  Since the timing coincides with Spring Break, we have made it a point to refresh, rejuvenate and renew by taking a week long vacation somewhere.  This year, it was at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas.

Then, on Easter Day, we go to the nursery where Garrett gets to pick out his plant or tree of choice for that year which we get to add in our backyard.  This year, he chose a Lavender bush which went beautifully with my pink and white David Austin English roses.  For Garrett, choosing a plant each year at Easter, represents God’s love and sacrifice that we may grow and be fruitful!

By now, we understand that despite the attention this holy season gets worldwide, the weeks following Lent, as most of us get back to our daily lives and challenges, the hope starts slipping away, our faith gets tested and the zeal we had during entire week of Lent diminishes.

What if we could live everyday as if it were always Easter Sunday? When we never stop hoping and believing, keeping that passion alive, despite whatever set backs come our way?

How would your life be different if you know you can finally stop worrying and truly start living?

While my family no longer practices these traditions they will always have a special place in my heart.  Someday, Garrett will get to experience them when we visit the Philippines.

I look forward to hearing your own Easter stories and your answers to my 2 questions above.

Also, if this post has helped inspire you, please LEAVE A COMMENT, SHARE, LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my blog so we can stay connected!

Until We Meet…

I Am Cheering  You On To Your Success!

Emma 😉

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5 thoughts on “An Easter Story… Hope Lives On

  1. My Dear Emma,

    Thank you for sharing both your cultural past and those experiences you’ve had in your faith walk. One of the traditions I fondly remember is the dawn services on Easter morning depicting the resurrection. And, of course, you know I live in the promise of forgiveness and hope every day of my life, knowing how much God has changed my life.

    I experienced the stations of the cross on a Cursillo Experience after my salvation and it was so meaningful. I think you’ll find that if you return to the Philippines or at any time you relive some of the “traditions” they will have new fresh meaning for you now.

    I live in the promise of John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”

    May your life be filled every day with that hope! A God with no limits offers a life of no limits!

    Love you!

  2. Hi Emma,

    Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful part of your past which lives on with you and your family.I also enjoyed watching the video of part of these celebrations.

    It took me back’a few years’to my childhood about the Easter processions we used to have with all kids carrying a decorated wooden cross,adorned with various eater eggs etc and with a breaded Easter chicken at the top of it.
    I don’t know if this still goes on…but now I must find out! 🙂

    Thanks for leading me down memmory lane…a fond one,and hope you and your family are having a blessed Easter Monday,


    Jan 🙂

  3. Hi Jan! Don’t you just love going down memory lane? I know I do! While I don’t dwell in the past, I believe it’s what makes us and there are lessons learned there… Where did you spend your childhood? It must have been so wonderful to see the decorated cross, Easter eggs and “breaded chicken” too! Thanks for your all your support… Much Love, Emma 😉

  4. Dearest Leta, no Ma’m, thank you for your comment! Yes, I know how you walk your talk… Having roomed with you at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, I witnessed first hand how you started your day in the Word and ended your day with the Word… you’re a role model… Yes, Cursillo is big in the Philippines and both my parents went through it… I remember an artist coming to our house to create a cross made of colored salt where my parents knelt down… it’s very touching! Amen, Girl! Life with no limits! Love you too! Emma 😉