The painting above is a lovely representation of a real garden. It is full of peace, tranquility and harmony. Scripture scholars tell us that it was important that Jesus was buried in a garden, so that he could also resurrect in a garden, The reason it needed to take place in a garden goes beyond just the appearance of beautiful flowers and shade, however. There is a direct correlation between the first garden, the Garden of Eden, where the original sin and the rupturing of the relationship with God took place, and the second garden, where restoration and resurrection take place. Jesus, as the New Adam, takes away the sin that ocurred in the Garden of Eden, "O necessary sin!" as we sing at the Easter Vigil Mass, and replaces the covenant made with Adam with the New and Eternal Covenant of his body and blood. The old world of sin and hopelessness gives way to the new world of restoration and fruitfulness.
As we journey through the Easter season, let us imitate Mary Magdalene and go into the garden in search of Jesus. Like Mary, we will no longer see Jesus in the same light as before the resurrection. Now, we look for him sacramentally. We have to look for him in other people, as Mary did. But let us also just pause in the garden and reflect on the joyful events of Easter, so that we don't miss marking "the things that have taken place in these days" (Luke 24:18) and carry on as though nothing has happened.
April 2, 2019 marks the 12th annual World Autism Awareness Day. On this day, you may notice landmarks, buildings and even homes dressed in light blue in recognition of people living with Autism.
The website www.AutismSpeaks.org contains more information about this day, autism itself and ways to foster support and understanding for those with autism and their families.
In fact, the entire month of April is dedicated to promoting integration, awareness and inclusion. And there is a lot to celebrate. It wasn't that long ago that mothers of autistic children were accused of making them that way. Remember the term "refrigerator mom?" There has certainly been progress in understanding autism and providing therapies to children and their families, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that autism is a indeed a challenge to deal with and live with.
Autismspeaks.org lists these behaviors as possible signs of autism:
difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication
sensory issues (over or under-sensitivity to sound, light, touch)
difficulty recognizing emotions
difficulty understanding social cues
We created the rosary above at the request of a mother with 2 austisitic children. She, a nurse, had more understanding than many parents of the symptoms and behaviors of autism. But intellectual understanding doesn't always make things easier. She spent a good deal of time in deep breathing exercises and prayer. "I love both of my kids dearly," she told us. "And I want to keep it that way."
This rosary is a bit bigger and chunkier than most of our rosaries, and it has the multi-colored puzzle ribbon attached near the centerpiece. You can see it here. The rosary can be an especially effective tool in calming people with autism. Due to its repetitive nature, the rosary can help calm both parents and children in anxiety-causing situations. We've seen moms use it to sooth children having a episode, and sometimes holding a physical object like the rosary can also be helpful. For more benefits of praying the rosary so our post "5 Great Reasons to Pray the Rosary."
This month, we encourage all of our visitors to send up a prayer for all those - adults or childen- living with autism. Say a little prayer for all those who love and care for them, as well. And if you are out and about and notice your cashier doesn't make eye contact, remind yourself it may not be on purpose. Or if you are at a church or school function, refrain from blaming the parents if their child seems out of control. Autism often "looks" normal. Instead, ask God to help them and us to be kind and patient, and in this season of Lent, add them to your prayers.