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Celebrating Easter - Open Thread

How did you celebrate Easter this year?Our parish's vigil Mass began in the entryway of the church, with the doors open. Since the church is on a main avenue, we start with the sounds of the city all around us, a reminder that the first Easter also took part amid the bustle and distractions of city life. I always enjoy the quick, almost furtive, yet joyful, whispered greetings of "Happy Easter!" as people welcome each other in the darkened sanctuary. (It's here! Finally! And so are we! Can you believe it!)As often happens, there was a momentary pause due to "technical difficulties" with the fire used to light the Easter candle. Watching everyone process in, faces lit only by their candles, is a special joy, and cause for its own moment of meditation---how beautiful and varied are the faces of God's people! Once in our pews, we settled in (more or less, there was a constant low level of activity in the back pews from the under-10 crowd) for the next three-plus hours of praying and singing (lots of singing in our parish---everything from Gregorian chant to contemporary gospel) in English, Igbo and Latin.We had the joy of a man in his 60s (named, wonderfully, Pasqual) receiving the Easter sacraments during the Mass. Afterwards, we trooped downstairs to the church hall for a dessert potluck---a lovely, little parish tradition that is, among other things, a humble reminder of how sweet the Resurrection is.

About the Author

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 



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Luke,We had the grace of three baptisms and a number of confirmations; and the view from the sanctuary of flames flickering on the faces of young and old, hail and halting was, indeed, awe-inspiring. Even the somewhat over-the-top "alleluias" (just beyond our choir's competence) only made the joy more human and more complete.

Vigil was at 5 p.m. Everyone was given a candle and told to be seated. Lots of room; church half full. Priest and helpers lit the Paschal Fire outdoors, with the proceedings mic'd in to the rest of us. Sun streaming in the windows blunted the effect of the candles of the faithful lit from the Easter candle. Church half full. Since we have been merged with another parish, the two candidates were "processed" at our sister church's Vigil at 7 p.m. Home in time to make spaghetti and watch "The Ten Commandments," which our son proclaimed to be the most boring movie ever. When I told him his grandfather and Charlton Heston used to ski together in northern Michigan, he remained unimpressed, and went into his boy cave with his Peeps and iPod. My mother insisted we come for Easter, though we never celebrated this holiday when we were kids. So we're taking her out for brunch. Being around all the people coming out of church will doubtless remind her to tell us she does not believe in "all that claptrap about the Resurrection."I'm sure ya'll wanted something more inspiring. Fortunately, Jesus is still with us despite the travesties of Life As It Is, the saints still rejoice in heaven and pray for us, and whatever irritations today brings, I've got two nice cats to come home to who'll be happy to cuddle up when it's time for evening devotions.

The smell of lilacs when you enter the church...the different perspective, literally, of the mass because some interloper (sorry, future revert) in sitting in your regular pew...having time after you come back from receiving communion to pray for your B and even C list intentions because the lines are so long...a hearty home-cooked breakfast.

A number of Notre Dame graduates come back for the liturgy of the Triduum. My wife and I had some of my former students back for brunch on Holy Saturday. While running about I looked out the winow and saw the first blooom of crocus in the back yard. Services on campus were standing room only in the basilica. We will end things with Easter Vespers this evening. Christ is risen!

My daughter is sacristan today and, since she is still too young to wander around the neighborhood at 6:30 am, we went with her to church so she could set up for the 8:00 Mass. It was a little like getting to a baseball game really early where you see the groundscrew about their business and the diehard fans getting settled. I was moved by the very devout people who got there extra early because they had a private ritual; like the elderly woman who crossed the front of the church on her knees until she reached the tabernacle, where she prayed. You could tell it was hard for her to kneel at all, let alone move on her knees; I wonder what she was praying for.

The litany of the saints last night included Ignatius of Antioch, Basil, Augustine, It had never occurred to me before that they were saints, people we could pray to. That's a joy. So many people are with us in the Eucharist. The great cloud of witnesses just got bigger!As often on big feasts, I've gone to communion with some guilt for leaving behind the overly scrupulous divorced+remarried or otherwise banned, while I myself take my place in the line to receive communion. The thought keeps coming that I ought to refrain sometimes, out of solidarity with them (but I can never bring myself to it). It seems to me that if the church were serious about "spiritual communion", the Good Friday liturgy would not include communion: thus one day per year every one, even those who are not on the black list, would be asked to fast from receiving communion.

Attended Easter Vigil. The cantor did an amazing job with the Exsultet. Blessing of the fire, candles, bells and singing before the Gospel. I love the Easter vigil. A friend of my daughter's singing in the choir and that was so nice to see. Congratulated her mother after.Then came home and, as a family, watched Les Miserables, a spiritual and hopeful musical in its own right with themes of suffering, redemption and love. Now, this morning, preparation of Easter dinner for just the three of us. Turkey, home made cabbage rolls, home made peroghies, pie, and all the trimmings.Always a time for new beginnings.....

We had more than two dozen initiated, including TEN baptisms. The church felt full, but some sections weren't totally packed together. It took exactly three hours without feeling inordinately long. Great homily. Modesty forbids a description of the music, except to say that participation was enthusiastic!

This year I went to the Triduum (mentioned earlier) mostly on my own, but Easter Sunday was our family Mass. Unfortunately today there was a bishop as well as some baptisms. The church was packed, communion was chaotic and we spent a long time stuck in a stop-and-go line, with the oldest family member visibly in severe pain from all that standing and stopping. The youngest kids could see nothing and were ready to cry from boredom. We were not all together and I was as distracted as a hen when her chicks are out of sight. One relative has an allergy to bishops and went to sulk in the most remote corner of the church. The Mass went on and on, seemingly forever. We ended up leaving "early", that is, after an hour and forty five minutes. The whole thing was kind of a fiasco. The morale, I think: when with family, avoid long crowded Masses like the plague.

A non-church-going Easter. Watched a video on the fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises (the Resurrection) last night .... ... And watched the last bits of the movie The Gospel of John. Posted the end of the movie "Jesus" on my blog. Watched an amazing lightening/thunder storm. Prayer. Today - exchange of chocolate with my sister :)

Our small Southern parish always has managed a beautiful Triduum, most especially the Vigil. A tryptych painted by a parishioner hangs over the altar, and its opening is one of my favorite moments in each year: the doors swing open and Christ in splendor is revealed amidst our wonderful choir's singing of the Gloria. Last year was the first year we celebrated the vigil without our Spanish-speaking community and, again, this year they celebrated separately. That has been a loss. Their music and spirit brought a lot to the bi-lingual service. This year our pastor has been concerned about people leaving the parish after two very political homilies we heard from a deacon in October, and last night's attendance suggested he may be right. The sanctuary was not half full and we had only one baptism. What might have been a sad, dreary experience in an empty church actually was quite intimate and moving, thanks to our pastor and the spirit of the parish. We were to have a parish couple who've been generous to our children for Easter dinner. But near the hour when the women found the empty tomb I awoke with a kidney stone. Dinner cancelled, our family had a quiet day together only moderately interrupted by my discomfort. I can report the stone has now been rolled away, having been rejected by the builder.

"I can report the stone has now been rolled away, having been rejected by the builder.That is so good. Thanks.

My wife came up with the idea this year of requiring our children to attend the Triduum celebrations. I sat with them for part of Thursday and all of Vigil to help them understand what was going on, as there is so much that happens that is outside their liturgical experience: the Eucharistic procession and adoration, the baptism of an adult, and so on. Two of my kids elected to have their feet washed on Thursday. On Friday, we were able to approach the cross for veneration as a family - I whispered to them to say a prayer of thanks for Jesus dying for us. Whether they'll want to come back next year, I don't know, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Burnet Park Zoo , overlooking the city...6:45 AMm.. the sun peers out...The mass begins..For the 30th year, nearly 800 gather in parkas, some with folding chairs with thermoses and from many diverse parishes ...The same priest and pastor of the parish I attend grets all and fine guitarists and a good sound system lead us all...The same married (widowed) deacon, now nearly 80, with one leg amputated sitting in his wheelchair reads the gospel with true passion...Women abound in all other radings and roles...The pastor, in touk and a simlpe stole over his parka, exhorts ll to believe in the Resurrection for one's own life in Christ and cites some great examples of the new pope in service..Communion is all over the place, but all receive and greetings wrmly exchanged after mass...Another dawn of resurrection... Alleluia!

Jim, if they won't go, tell them they can watch "The Ten Commandments" instead.

We attended Good Friday via Cruces (Spanish service), and the high school kids re-enacted the trail & crucifixion. The 'play' started in the parking on one side of the church, went half-way round the block, and came back to that lot via the alleyway. It was nice. Then all went back inside, for the readings, the Passion, and the veneration of the cross. Our Saturday was slow because our seven year-old had some sort of 24-hour stomach flu; chicken broth, jello, chamomile tea, ginger ale and crackers, all day long (poor little guy). Sunday he came bouncing back, and we watched Pope Francis offer mass and the Urbi et Orbi on TV, went to Easter mass around noon (Spanish mass; packed to the rafters) and later, to a good (Greek) restaurant for lunch (Chicken Marsala, Mmm!) with some friends; Easter baskets (candy and hard boiled eggs) for the boys; a very nice day.

Cranked up the Gloria from the Bach B Minor Mass, and then toddled off to church with the family.

Jim Pauwels, your post is the one that gets to me most so far. If your kids don't get into it next year, it's not your fault.

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