a guest post by the Western Rite Sister in the South (as opposed to the Eastern Rite Priest’s Wife in the West)
It was a tough Lent. Well over forty days of sacrifice riddled our family; one child only wrote in cursive, one gave up chocolate milk at school, others gave up any screen time game playing. We attended daily Mass, knelt in the dark and prayed a decade of the rosary nightly, not a sweet made its way to our table and nary a Netflix movie flickered on the set. Lent had invaded our domicile, and it was wonderful! The bread dough crown shed its toothpick thorns and sat naked on the table come the Holy Triduum. We were poised and ready to greet Our Blessed Lord on Easter.
Our oldest sons spent hours preparing for the Liturgies of the Triduum during Holy Week. As each Liturgy commenced, our anticipation grew as we readied ourselves for the Lord to rise. Washing feet. Instituting the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Interceding for the whole world, venerating the Cross. Silence. Sadness. The tabernacle was barren.
And then, the Easter fire was ignited. The Pascal candle was lit, Christ our Light. Our little candles were lit, Thanks be to God. Gradually, the darkened womb of the church was illuminated by individual living flames, like stars in the inky sky. With seven children, our pew blazed forth brightly—baptized souls illumining a dark world. Ahhhh. Quiet, beauty, mystery--and recalling the faithful throughout the ages that have gazed into those dancing flames. Our sensus fidei recollections were abruptly interrupted by the flipping on of the artificial lights, eclipsing the tiny flickers. A fellow parishioner pointed at the missal , which directed, “the church lights now are turned on.” Blow ‘em out, folks—let’s move along into the 20th century! Yup, we wouldn’t want to be getting too religious now, would we?
The obligatory three Old Testament readings were read; heck, we all know the creation story inside and out, why bother reading it again!? When the Gloria arrived, the sanctuary candles were lit, only it didn’t make much difference due to the the 60 watt Reveal bulbs glaring brightly. Thank you Jesus for dying and rising to save me. Thank you Jesus for showing up during hasty liturgy. Oh Jesus, forgive me for my irritation during Your most sacred rising…..Not even a thurible of incense graced the sanctuary. Father had a long week, and wanted to get to bed. He said so in his homily.
We fumbled into the dark muggy Alabama night, wondering what just happened. Our bodies ached with hunger, as did our souls. Where was Easter? We did what any good Catholic does in a crisis—reflected on the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. Grace builds on nature. Our nature was famished, and this called for food and a plan of action!
We drove back home after binging at a Chinese Buffet (the only night that Mom doesn’t require the consumption of vegetables before hitting the tapioca or icecream machine!) in silence. The Easter bunny’s midnight run ended at half past one. As I was attempting to fall asleep, many thoughts plagued my mind. We fast, pray and give alms. We strip the church and cover statues. The priest and sanctuary wear violet. Shouldn’t the Easter season do the same? The explanation we parents give to our kiddos about fasting and sacrifice are balanced with the uber-feasting of Easter. We fast together, we party together!
Liturgically, our parish does Lent well. We don’t even have to put up with the ever popular “desert scene” that hits sanctuaries everywhere in the West out here in the South. But when it comes to Easter, it is merely a return to Ordinary time. Liturgically speaking, with the plague of the dreaded “option” in the missal, the Easter season seems no more a high feast than a nice optional memorial where the priest opts to change his vestment for a change. Give me the smells, give me the bells! Hey, if you want to get charismatic about it, this is the time to do it brother! Let’s sing that Alleluia with vigor and joy!
I was craving some celebration! Easter needed to invade our family the way Lent had. The Resurrected Jesus needed to be adored in Liturgy the way we reflected and adored His Passion in Lent. We opted not to despair of a singular anticlimactic liturgy, and resolved to chalk it up as an isolated situation. Falling asleep, we decided to try again at the morning mass at another parish to get some much needed Resurrection caffeine.
part two will be posted soon...