Our  Perspectives from the “Classroom”  series will be shared every Wednesday bringing you a reflective piece from one of our St. Paul faculty members.

Sister Mary Mercy Lee, F.S.E., is a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist who lives in Meriden, CT. She teaches religion and has been at St. Paul Catholic High School for three years. She is known to do creative things to get her students engaged like playing ultimate frisbee, planning obstacle courses or asking a fellow Sister to play reveille on the trumpet to wake up her first period class.

We’re pleased to bring you Sister Mary Mercy Lee’s reflection on her teaching in the “classroom” of unchartered distance learning at St. Paul.
Sister Mary Mercy Lee, F.S.E
Perspectives from the “Classroom”

What a very different Lent this has been so far.
Normally, during the 40 Days of Lent, I introduce my students to ashes on Ash Wednesday, the three pillars of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) and answer many questions, including: “Why can’t I have Stella’s sausage and egg on Fridays? ( Hint: What did Jesus do on a Friday?).
During our weekly Chapel days, we spend the class time in our Father O’Brien chapel. The students meditate on the Gospel, they learn the liturgical color of the altar cloths and vestments (purple) and learn to pray the Stations of the Cross.

In the classroom my students perform skits that really bring alive the Scriptures. I am in awe of their creativity, cleverness and humor. Their thoughtful insights and reflections give me much to contemplate. I enjoy their laughter, their questions and their greetings each day.

But that was all stripped away. This Lent we share in Jesus’ suffering in a very real way.
However, through the ingenuity, creativity and hard work of both faculty and students, school is not cancelled, but continues, in fact—thrives. This week is Holy Week, the holiest week in the liturgical year. Normally as a school community, we would gather to have Mass together, but just as school is not cancelled, Mass is not cancelled.
These photos were taken in Sister Mary Mercy Lee's classes just before school was closed.
Worship Together

Again, through the creativity and teamwork of the St. Paul community, we have the opportunity to worship together. Today our school community has a special schedule specifically for our student body and family to be able to watch Mass celebrated by Father Hector in our very own Father O’Brien chapel.

Like Father Hector, our faithful priests continue to celebrate Mass in our parishes— for us . When Mass is not available in the usual way, how important it us for us to take advantage of the many resources, live streaming and recordings that are available for us to join in the celebration of the Eucharist.

This week I had a conversation with my students about the reality that this Easter may not be as we would want it. Like Jesus, we are stripped of our families, we are stripped of being able to worship together, we are stripped of our favorite traditions. But how can we make this Easter a celebration of joy during the hardship?

Make a Plan

I asked my students to facilitate a conversation with their families and talk about how to celebrate the Easter Triduum (the Last Supper, Jesus’ Passion and Death, and the Resurrection) in a new and meaningful way. Just as they make their skits creative and lively, how could they live the mystery of the Easter Triduum from their own homes?
As I explained to my students, God does not force his love. He would never barge into our homes uninvited. He is present and He is there, but He waits for our invitation.
So, invite God into your home. Make Him a part of your Easter plan. He wants to be a part of your cultures and your traditions. Yes, He wants to enter into your homes, but into your hearts as well.

Yes, this will be a very different Easter, indeed, but let us make it a joyous one where we welcome the Risen Lord, who conquers isolation, loneliness, viruses—and even death itself. When we celebrate from our homes this weekend, may our prayer and desire for Christ be intensified so that when this is all over, we may be transformed and walk out of the tomb and into the joy of Resurrection.