Christ, our Light! Thanks be to God!!
I just got back from the Vigil Mass, filled up on chocolate, carrots, and cookies, and am now sitting down, reflecting upon the awesomeness of this evening, and of life in general. =)
The Easter Vigil is absolutely amazing; something which I think every Catholic needs to experience AT LEAST once, if not multiple times. See, Easter is the Feast of Feasts in the Church; it's kinda a super huge deal. And growing up, I always went to the Triduum with my family--Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday (when I was a little shaver, we didn't go to the vigil, but I have for several years now). I am so thankful for this practice in my family, for it has been a great aid in growing in my Faith, and fully experiencing the events of Christ's Passion.
So I guess I'm gonna go on a little tangent about Holy Week. Well, I must confess, outside of all of my Lenten sacrifices and extra practices, I didn't really do anything extra for Monday-Wednesday of Holy Week...but then came Thursday. I went to a Sedar Meal on Thursday evening, which is a great way to recount what Christ did with His disciples before He went to the garden. Then, going to Mass, I could experience how the Sedar Meal of the Passover is fulfilled in Christ, with the Eucharist. Holy Thursday Mass is amazing. Seeing my pastor kneeling before 12 men--which included the two associate pastors--was inspiring. The great humility that Christ calls us to is incredible, something which I have to work on time and time and time again!
Then came Good Friday. I have to say, I slept in on Good Friday; I probably slept in until about 10:30 or so--I was exhausted, and it had taken me forever to go to sleep. But I figure that--since I was sleeping prayerfully, in unity with Christ, it's okay. Friday afternoon, I rode my bike to a little lake thing in my neighborhood, and for a while I sat on the grass. I prayed a Rosary, and meditated on the Passion, using "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" by Anne Catherine Emmerich. If you haven't picked that book up, do it next Lent. I haven't read the book the whole way through, but every year on Good Friday, I use a section to prayerfully pray with. It helps one to see and experience the Passion of Christ in a whole new way. I was, at times, literally sitting, gasping for a breath because of the intensity. Well, later that day was the service. I find Good Friday services to be so extremely sad; I came to church in some of my most somber clothes: A brown dress with brown jacket and brown shoes, and a brown scarf covered my head, as opposed to my lovely white veil. The church was completely bare, and it filled me with sorrow. But this sorrow was not to last.
Holy Saturday was full of anticipation: getting my new Easter dress all laid out for Mass, washing my mantilla, making food for Sunday's feast. There was a joy in the anticipation, though it was not complete--because I was still waiting on Christ's Resurrection.
Vigil Mass. I got there a bit early to sacristan with one of my friends, and I found out that I would get to turn on the lights for the whole church at the end of the Service of Light. I'm not gonna lie, I was positive that I would mess up the lights, and therefore mess up the whole Vigil Mass. So I had three different people explain how to do it, and thankfully, when the time came, the lights went on without a hitch.
Catholics are such pyromaniacs, and I love it. Christ is the Light of the World. The Holy Spirit rains down His fire on us. We hold fire at the Vigil. We are called to burn with the love of Christ, so that when others are near to us, they will also burn with the fire and love of Christ (according to the great Fr. Bernie Gorges).
The Communion of Saints is fantastic. The Church Militant, Triumphant, and Suffering, bound in this community of love. I think the Teens Encounter Christ retreat that I went on in October helped to draw forth this idea for me, and it has hit me in many ways since then. During the Litany of the Saints, the people who were going to be baptized were all standing in front of the congregation. We appealed to the Saints in Heaven for their prayers. St. Francis, pray for us! St. Dominic, pray for us! Etc. This reality hit me in a whole new way tonight; the power of the intercessory prayers of the universal Church! And "Catholic" means universal--and that doesn't just mean "earthly," but "universal"--we're all over the place! Heaven, Purgatory, and Earth. And we are all bound by love and prayers. I love it!!
Easter joy is amazing. As they rang the bells at church, sang the "Alleluia," baptized people---it was all incredible! I have found, over the years, that the more penitential and sacrificial the Lent there is, the more one grows and finds joy in the Easter season! Which, I might point out, lasts until Pentecost. The Octave of Easter has a Solemnity each day, so throw a party every day!! And then there's the Easter season. So celebrate in full force, and show this world what it means to be Catholic and have the light and joy of Christ!!!
May Christ's Blessings shower upon each and every one of you!!!