Liz had brought Brian’s and Kevin’s artwork to Hope Chapel after work on Thursday. The artwork was arranged on easels around the perimeter of the sanctuary with meditations and prayers posted at each station. Kevin had done a construction paper mosaic of Station 4 depicting Jesus’ meeting with Mary on the Via Dolorosa. Brian had done a pen and ink depiction of Station 14 of Jesus being laid in the tomb.
Liz had taken the day off. Years ago, employees were given half a day off on Christmas Eve and on Good Friday, but that practice had gone by the wayside in recent years. Liz generally used a week of her vacation time while the kids were on Easter break and the other week after Christmas. When her schedule was particularly hectic, generally when she was in trial or a 12-hour mediation, she accrued unpaid overtime, which could be used for time off for medical appointments or to take a day or two off from time to time.
She began her preparations for Easter in the morning. She cooked the eggs to be colored, baked the cake to be decorated on Sunday, purchased small presents and candy for the Easter baskets, ordered the rolls for Easter dinner, baked the hot cross buns, and purchased Easter lilies to decorate the house and the church. Brian had done the marketing for the week-end the night before.
All of the O’Connell children were now officially on their Easter break, as were the Martin twins. All of the children had an opportunity to color eggs, and to make whatever designs on them desired with the wax pencils that came with the Easter coloring kit. It was an annual event that the O’Connell children looked forward to every year—and Audrey and Andy enjoyed joining in.
In addition to polishing the silver flatware and helping Liz set the table for Sunday dinner, Marvelous Marta had cleaned the house, washed the clothes, cleaned up after the baking spree and egg coloring, and had helped Liz get the children’s Easter clothes ready for Sunday. Anna and Audrey had new dresses and shoes, and Andy was able to fit into Brian’s light blue sport coat.
The family left early for the Good Friday Tenebrae service so they would have time to walk the Stations of the Cross. The Tenebrae service was one of the best loved services of the year at Hope Chapel.
The mood inside the sanctuary was solemn. Parishioners moved noiselessly from station to station, in prayerful meditation on the suffering of Jesus. Liam bent down to Sean and quietly read each of the meditations to him.
They spent a bit longer at stations 4 and 14, admiring Brian and Kevin’s artwork.
“Dad, why did you sign “S.D.G.” on your drawing?” Anna whispered. Those aren’t your initials.
“No, they’re not,” Brian answered quietly. “I’ll explain on the way home.
The service itself was quiet and impactful. At the end of the service, the Christ candle was removed from the altar and the church was in total darkness. Following Hope Chapel tradition, the choir quietly sang Gaffurio’s Adoramus Te Christe a cappella at the back of the church. The music was hauntingly beautiful. It always touched the core of Liz’s soul. After a few moments, the family filed out of the church wordlessly with the other worshipers.
After everyone was seated and settled in the Suburban, Anna asked, “So why did you sign your drawing with the initials S.D.G?”
“Does it stand for ‘so darned good?’” she teased.
Brian laughed. “No, S.D. G. is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Soli Deo gloria. Basically, it means, ‘To God alone be the glory.’ Faith in God has inspired the best art and music that the world has ever known. Many artists and composers, notably Bach, signed their work S.D.G. because they knew that their talent comes from God and he alone should receive the praise and glory for the work that their God-given talent produced.”
“And I just follow this tradition of giving God the glory for the beauty in any art that I create.”
To be continued . . .