Yesterday, after my morning class, I decided that candy-making was a far worthier pursuit than finishing my reading assignment for my afternoon class. Apparently, God agreed with this, because instead of having a quiz and lecture—like we normally do—our teacher showed us a video of Easter Matins for Greek Orthodox Christians. Total win!
Despite what many stores and people in our culture think, the Easter season lasts until Pentecost, which will be just under fifty days from now. And this week, the first full week of Easter, is “Easter Week.” I’ve also heard people call it “Bright Week.” Every day is a solemnity, which means that each day is celebrated as another Easter Sunday. We sing or recite the Gloria at Mass. Candles abound. And the Church is pretty much mandating a continual party all week long! So celebrate! Eat bacon and chocolate and candy and do wondrous activities! Because Christ is risen!
I would like to take a step back, and reflect on the past week, which was packed with liturgical awesomeness. So, without further ado, here’s a play-by-play of my pre-Triduum, Triduum, and Easter Week adventures:
This is aptly named, because it is the day in which we remember Judas sneaking and spying around, making preparations to betray Christ. While I had been thinking more intently about the Passion and sufferings of Christ ever since Passiontide started (a week before Palm Sunday, in the Extraordinary Form), Spy Wednesday brought the reality of the deception and darkness of Holy Week to the forefront of my mind. On this day, I attended Tenebrae, which is the Holy Thursday Office of Readings. (For practicality purposes, our school has it on Wednesday evening.) The Schola Cantorum, one of our school’s sacred music choirs, led the congregation in the simple chanted psalms, and one of the friars proclaimed the readings. Tenebrae, which is Latin for “darkness,” ends in a beautiful way: at the conclusion of each set of psalms, one of the nine candles in the front of the sanctuary is extinguished. Finally, the whole church is darkened, except for a few candles that stand on the altar. The candles are extinguished or taken out, so that the whole church is completely dark. Then, there is a loud bang! This brings to our minds and hearts the Passion and death of Christ on the Cross. Tenebrae is an epic way to enter into the Triduum, and I was very glad that I could attend.
For the entire day, I felt as if I was on break. My husband was on break, since he does not have any Tuesday/Thursday classes this semester. I just have one class on these days (Tolkien), so it was pretty laid back. I started preparing for the Triduum by cleaning out the pantry and apartment, so that leftover food could be consumed on Thursday and Saturday (to make way for the Easter feast), and so that I could focus more intently on prayer during the weekend. The Triduum began as we attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Peter’s church, in downtown Steubenville. We love this parish, and we love the Holy Thursday liturgy. Every year, the part of the liturgy that really hits me hard is the Eucharistic Procession around the church and the subsequent stripping of the altar. The deep recognition of sorrow, loneliness, and darkness permeates the church each year.
Such a deeply sorrowful day! But, at the same time, joyful—because we knew that the resurrection of Our Lord was coming! We spent the entire morning moving furniture and painting silhouettes in the J.C. Williams Center on campus, for the Resurrection Party. We returned home, ate some bread, and cleaned house some more, stripping and cleansing surfaces to prepare our apartment for Easter. I also meditated on some chapters from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Ann Catherine Emmerich. We went on campus for the 3 p.m. service, which was awesome! A special choir had prepared for several weeks in advance, and they sang incredible music (awesome chants, harmonies, and I think there was some polyphony in the mix, too). The service went about 2 hours or so, I believe. Then, we had a simple dinner of rice and beans, before heading out to the Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh. Last year was the first time I was able to participate in this vigil, and yet again, I was deeply impacted. With rain pouring down on us for much of the time, a group of about 20 people—including some faculty of the university and their families—prayed outside of the building, joining Mary and John at the foot of Christ’s Cross on Good Friday. Our shift went from 7-11 p.m., after which we got some much-needed rest.
Prayer, food preparations, and lots of bouncy excitement filled the day. Then, we went to the Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s again, which was extremely epic. Afterwards, we played a couple games of Legendary, and then went up to campus for the Resurrection Party. The Resurrection Party is this crazy event where students and Catholics from the area party it up until about 4 a.m. There’s food, pop, candy, live music, and utter insanity. Thankfully, some of our friends had snagged a room, so we could shut the door and actually hear each other talk. We hung out there until 3 a.m., and it was delightful!
|For "midnight snack" on Easter Sunday, my husband made "cakin."|
Bacon interlaced like a lattice crust! We cooked it like this,
and it was quite delicious and very exciting :)
We attended 11 a.m. Mass on campus, which was quite beautiful and peaceful. Then, we went to one of the dorms, where a household sister of mine had cooked a gigantic, delicious brunch. So, we spent a couple hours enjoying spinach-and-berry salad, coffee cake, fresh fruit, and coconut macaroons. Then, we journeyed home, where we played a couple games of chess. We went back on campus a little while later, to spend time with my younger brother and his friends. See, a few days before Easter, I had what I believe was a splendid idea: On Easter, we celebrate Christ conquering sin and death. So, to celebrate, we could conquer the world by playing Risk. We battled it out while eating junk food and ultimately conceded victor to one of my brother’s friends. A lively game of Ultimate Frisbee closed out the evening, and we went home to call our families and take a deep breath!
After a lovely phone date with a dear friend of mine, we attended an all-day Hobbit Marathon. It had been a while since I had seen the first two Hobbit movies, and I had never seen the third movie. So, I was extremely excited to spend time with friends and enjoy the films! I must say, I quite enjoyed the third movie. It was an excellent conclusion to the Hobbit movie trilogy, and I liked how the end of the movie set the stage for The Fellowship of the Ring. And Billy Boyd’s song during the credits? Heart-wrenchingly sad and beautiful!
Well, my husband was still on break, and I definitely felt like I was on break. So, there was much playing of board games (mainly chess), eating unhealthy food, and relaxing tossed into the mix of my one class. I also worked on my thesis a bunch, determined to finish revising it. Which I did not accomplish, of course—other noble pursuits (ie: crafts) filled my time.
Ah, the loveliness of Easter Wednesday! It started out by driving to school at 6 a.m. to sacristan—and coming across 4 full-grown deer in the parking lot! They were so beautiful and it was so peaceful, I loved looking at them! Naively, I thought: OK. So I’ll just drive really, really slowly, and that way they won’t notice me and run off, and I can just gaze at their beauty while I drive by! Naturally, as soon as I was a few yards away, the deer scampered off into the woods, but it was still quite beautiful and awesome. Besides classes, there was much work on my thesis, which I finally finished revising! Now it’s off to my advisor, who will mark up any final changes I need to make before the final draft!
Well, there you have it: 8 days of awesomeness. I quite enjoyed myself, and I am thrilled to continue joyfully into the rest of the Easter season—and rest of senior year—with all that I’ve got. I hope that you’ve enjoyed hearing my octave summarized, and that you are having an amazing Easter Week! Continue to spread the joy and love of the Risen Christ in all that you do!
Oh, and by the way, I want to reiterate: every day this week is a solemnity! So don't fast on Friday!