As a convert to Catholicism, I can appreciate the power of Holy Week. From life to death and back again, it’s story of hope and triumph over darkness. His Grace Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York expounds on the meaning of this sacred time.

Dolan: A lot of ups-and-downs, light and darkness, life and death this week we Christians deem “holy.” A stew of seemingly contradictory ingredients: From the height of Palm Sunday, with acclamations of faith in Jesus as the long-awaited “Son of David,” to the rant of the worked up rabble on Good Friday, “Crucify Him!”

From the raised palms of victory greeting Jesus seated on a donkey, to the raised fists demanding His torture and death the following Friday. From the warmth of that fraternal meal at what would be His “Last Supper” on Holy Thursday, to the anguish of blood, sweat, and tears only hours later in His “agony in the Garden,” as one of his dinner guests betrays Him, the others all-but-one abandon Him, and the leader He had appointed denying Him three times.

From the misery, defeat, and death on that Friday weirdly called “good,” when the sun hid and darkness covered the earth, to His radiant Resurrection after three days.

Faith to doubt…to faith again; Joy to sorrow…to jubilation again; Good to evil…back to good; Life to death…and a return to life; Victory to defeat…to triumph again. Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday…

Is it bizarre? Is it a tease? Or…is it a reflection of what this life is for all of us? For are not these days on Earth just such of mixture of both joy and sadness? We seem to weave from health to sickness, peace to war, flourishing to adversity…and then, finally, death to eternal life.

Have we not sensed that during COVID? Sickness, isolation, fear, death; but also heroism of so many, and eventually recovery. Do we not watch that in Ukraine? A vicious, unjust attack on the innocent, babies blown up, and refugees in the millions, but a people of resilience and grit, uniting the world, with neighbors formerly at times suspicious of one another now embracing and aiding those fleeing.

My Jewish friends tell me that this mixture of joy and sadness is central to Passover as well: a meal with both bitterness and sweetness, memories of oppression mixed with home and the reality of liberation.

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I’ve told the story of Mom’s wake a month ago: while we cried before Mom’s casket, we suddenly smiled and rejoiced when her granddaughter told us she was pregnant with her first baby.

Yes, ups-and-downs, this Holy Week, this Passover, these years on Earth. But, remember, Easter has the last word! Life, not death; good, not evil; smiles, not tears; victory not defeat has the last word.