Sunday, April 12, 2009

I took Kenny and Timmy to the Easter Vigil last night which started at 8pm.
The rain that had fell hard and cold all day long mercifully lifted two hours before and the sun even came out. It was still somewhat cold but it was clear upon our arrival that the "new fire" would be started outside.

Large wicker baskets offered tapers and the boys took one apiece. Tim began complaining about the quality of his candle immediately.

We found seats on the left of the center aisle and waited twenty minutes or so for the service to begin. Fr. Ed invited us outside at the appropriate time and the fire was well underway. Kenny wasn't keen on the candidates and catechumens crowding us out from the fire but I told him we are there for them and not the other way 'round.

After some prayers at the fire, the Paschal Candle was lit and the deacon, whom I remember from previous years, carried it towards the church, elevating it once outside the door and chanted, "Christ Our Light," to which we responded a wavering, "Thanks Be To God." We found our way back into the church and I told Tim to take another taper if there were any left. And to get one he liked. So he did. Then, using the Paschal Candle as the source, every taper was lit throughout the church, from one end of the row to the other. It really was a sight, the entire church lit up by candles. And we held our candles while someone sang the Exsultet. With the light of the candle, I was able to follow along in my missal.

A few rows over had an incident with a candle being dropped and there was some scurrying of ushers, etc., but after we extinguished ours, I told the boys that they did a nice job keeping theirs lit and safe. And I was pleased that we didn't have an incident.

The readings were as they typically are, with the line "Let there be light" from Genesis, prompting someone to flick on the lights in the old church so that the stained glass wall depicting the cosmos at creation is lit up. During the reading of the account of creation from Genesis, Tim turned to me and said with all his might, "She's making up that entire story." He can be very assertive at times. Kenny jumped all over him for it. I didn't really want to get into it during church. At his age, I don't think it's worth getting into. But I do wonder where it comes from.

The boys were leaning on me during the readings and leaning on each other. The exodus account was performed as usual, with a nice Israeli melody which my kids almost, almost enjoyed. But they were too far gone already and it's too repetitive. I should say that the singing was, as last year, largely a one-man-show. He's good, very good, but there must be others in that huge church who can sing. And the lights came up, bright and intense and I had an unique feeling that I'd never had before, of God seeing everything that goes on and bringing the darkness to light. And I wasn't uncomfortable about that reality for myself, but I was ashamed for my children. After, a deacon read Romans 6 and Mark 16.

The homily was mercifully very brief but full of joyful language about the Resurrection. Last year, Fr. Ed had introduced us to the traditional Paschal greeting, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" and he checked us, whether we remembered. Some did remember and he was happy about that.

After the litany of saints, those receiving baptism, their sponsors and families walked to the font behind us. A video camera above the font projects the live image to the front wall and, so, seeing that many of the congregation stayed in their seats, I figured there would be plenty of room for me and the kids to go back! At first Kenny didn't want to join us, but he later changed his mind and came back. We could see pretty good, as I said, there weren't many extras like ourselves. There were six adults for baptism, a small class indeed. Fr. Ed grabbed a large shell and stepped into the ankle deep water. One at a time, they stepped into the water with him and he poured water on their heads three times in the name of the Trinity. That's gotta be the most amazing, miraculous thing ... and it looks so ordinary, but it's extraordinary. Amazing that people want this for themselves ... and can get it. That's all grace. And, as each came up from the water, Fr. Ed greeted them, "Praise God who has chosen you in Christ." Amen.

Tim was quick to comment on the proceedings, with his tongue stuck out and a thumbs-down gesture and a quiet "Boo." I warned him that some people were taking video tape of the goings-on and I wouldn't want them to catch a glimpse of him being that way. I told him to keep his opinion to himself because this is a very important moment for these people.

So, there's a little downtime after the baptisms as everyone who got wet changes their clothes. I gave the boys an opportunity to get a cold drink and use the restroom and we returned to our seats rather leisurely. Tim noticed that ushers were filling metal bowls from the baptismal font and he asked why. I said there would be a sprinkling rite which Tim successfully dodged by pulling my coat over his head, but Kenny was thrilled to get dropped on.

After the confirmations, the liturgy of the eucharist began and it was old hat again, smooth sailing. The kids stopped asking how much longer the service would be because we were at last, again, in very familiar territory. My kids aren't very flexible about using kneelers because we sit in the choir loft at our church were the kneelers are always down. Tim happened to be standing right where two kneelers met, so he had to hop around a bit to avoid having his feet crushed. They also aren't flexible in the communion line, can't go with the flow. So, when Msgr. Stan finished his line on the outer section and sought to assist in the center, Kenny didn't know enough to go to him. And Tim just waved him off. Which is better than last year when he stuck out his tongue at him. I remember even if neither of them do.

The concern from the beginning was whether the candles would be available for lighting. As if the service of light at the beginning of the vigil hadn't satisfied their pyromania. And I noticed that even before the closing hymn was sung, the velvet rope barring the banks of votives had been lowered, maybe by a mob.

There's no question that the music was very, very loud in the second half of the service. I'm not sure whether the acoustics are just poor but the brass instruments, especially the trumpets, just blare. My kids, unfortunately, had their hands over their ears ... and we weren't sitting close by any means. Even a man behind us, no doubt noticing them, remarked that the music was loud. I didn't lose my voice singing as in years past. I was a little more self-conscious.

I told Tim about the candles and he literally made a beeline over, cutting through empty pews and running right in front of people trying to leave. It was about 10:30. I gave them each several dollars and I tried to keep track of how many they were lighting. When I told Tim that he was done, he snuffed his most recent candle out and then relit it. I had to reprimand him for that but was uncomfortably aware of a man to our right on his knees in front of an icon and I realized that, unlike me and my kids, some people are actually praying in here for their intentions. I'm just not sure how anybody can come away from the Easter Vigil service with all its prayers and joy and feel a need to light a candle and kneel before it. Isn't that something one does outside of mass? Like, when attending a liturgy isn't a possibility? Certainly we offered our intentions just now. I was even more troubled to see a man rubbing his right hand on all the stained glass windows in the alcove very quickly.

Well, and we left and got milk at the Wawa and I told the kids to remember that they had just been to church and to act like it ... advice they didn't get at all ... and we were home well after 11pm.

1 comment:

RAnn said...

Thanks for participating in Sunday Snippets