On Holy Thursday, T drove Viv and me to the airport early in the morning and she and I flew to CA. We met up with her college friends for lunch and had a leisurely afternoon of wandering and window shopping (well, I did find a pretty tank top and some fun earrings that made it from the window to my purse) :) Taylor had classes in the morning, so his flight was later in the day.
Viv and I went to Mass at St. Cornelius Church, close to the airport. It was a beautiful liturgy. I am always impressed at how mystical the Triduum services are. I have been to many Holy Thursday Masses over the years, and I can't remember a bad one. Maybe it's the solemnity of the event that puts me in the right place for truly experiencing liturgy. Maybe the momentousness gives liturgists an extra reverence and special attention.
As I was sitting through Mass, thinking about my Lent and the sacrifices I promised to make, the helpful things I promised to do, and all my shortcomings and failings, I was nevertheless terribly excited for Easter.
Easter is my favorite. I explained it this weekend, comparing Easter to Christmas. Christmas is quite and hushed and intimate. A new mother holding her son, watching the first precious breaths he takes. Everything is holding its breath in silent awe.
Easter is different. Easter is hard. There is the strange and mystical and incomprehensible institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. The brutal and horrific death of Our Lord on Friday. The waiting, the longing, the grieving, the pain, the loss, and the anxiety of Holy Saturday. But.. on "this side" of the Resurrection, there is always Easter Sunday. There is the candle-lit vigil awaiting the triumphant dawn of that most Holy Day. It is total gift. And it is totally awe-some.
So there I sat, on Holy Thursday, hearing Jesus say: "You call me 'teacher' and 'master' and rightly so, for indeed, I am..." and watching and praying as the priest humbled himself to wash the feet of his parishioners. And I thought to myself: "I have not been very disciplined this Lent." But I realized, though it is no excuse to slack during Lent, that the quality of your observance does not change, in the slightest, the Joy of Easter. It's not as though anyone can "earn" the Resurrection. One can't merit a place at this most Holy Feast by fasting such-and-such amount. I do not say that Lenten sacrifices do not help in preparing for Easter. But these things do not make us "ready" to receive the grace of Christ's Resurrection. We will never be ready, "but only say the Word, Lord, and we shall be healed." I can never be ready for Easter because Easter will always surprise me.
"Tantum ergo sacramentum" we sang, as we followed Christ in procession to the Altar of Repose. I waited there with Christ for a few minutes while Taylor's plane landed in Long Beach. Tears were welling up inside me--I often cry during the Triduum--but the tears this year, I was certain, were tears of joy. Grateful Joy. Joy at the Gift and all the many blessings I have received this year. Thanksgiving for Christ's sacrifices and His Love. I smiled as soft drops fell down my cheeks.
Holy Saturday is a funny day for me. I feel like a little kid again, waiting for the cosmic explosion of Joy that is Easter. I want to sing Easter songs and I think about the vigil and the prayers and the candle--the anticipation of the night! "Not yet, Annie!" Taylor told me, "You can't sing that song yet." But almost :) It's so close. I can't help but be excited. I know the ending of the story and I will not be silent.
And the Vigil--did you know it was designed to take forever? To heighten the anticipation and the longing of the night? The Eucharistic prayer is especially long (you may have noticed). The blessing of the Easter fire, the candle-lit procession, the readings (and readings and readings) and the different psalms. And then we receive into the Church those who have been preparing themselves. Our dear friend Dave was confirmed in the Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano--a beautiful church for a beautiful event with beautiful people. Finally, Communion. Many parts but one body. "Go in peace, Alleluia! ALLELUIA!" Thanks be to God. Alleluia Alleluia!
Christ is risen from the dead!
By death He conquered death,
and to those in the graves He granted Life!
And to us He granted life eternal.
Let us glorify His resurrection.