Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ Has Risen, Alleluia! The Easter Triduum Revisited


Holy Thursday
     The Mass was one of my grandma’s favorites of the year.  The last time she joined us at St. Michael’s was for a Mass on Holy Thursday.  It was quite moving when someone went and brought my grandma down to have her feet washed without any of us asking. 

     Being involved in Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), Cursillo, and an Easter Triduum veteran, I’ve participated in the washing of the feet a number of times.  One of the most meaningful experiences I had was at Richmond Hill when I was on a Cursillo team overnight retreat.  The “rectora” ahead of the weekend and her “archangel” came and washed the feet of each team member, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  Both women are very loving, compassionate—true Christian servants—and we were all overwhelmed by the incredible love they expressed through such a seemingly simple act.
     This year is the thirteenth Easter Triduum Kevin and I have celebrated since our first one together in Roanoke back in 2000 when Kevin drove over 500 miles to spend four days going to church with me, and after the Triduum plus, was named by Fr. Remi Sojka “the patron saint of boyfriends.”  It was during that weekend Kevin began participating in the Sacraments and going to Mass on his own back in Rochester. 
     My mom, Kevin, and I sat together for Mass, and all of us loved the sermon that Fr. Dan Brady gave about the importance of service to others as being the basis of what each and every one of us is called to.  He was inspired by Pope Francis’ visit to a juvenile detention center where he celebrated Holy Thursday.    
     It has become my tradition to attend the Holy Thursday Mass each year, and for the past few years, I have stayed afterwards in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as part of my observance of the Triduum.  At our parish, they hold Adoration from the end of the Holy Thursday service when they process in with the ciborium filled with the Eucharist that will be used for the Good Friday service into the chapel until midnight that evening.  Lately, I haven’t been as good about doing Adoration regularly or setting aside adequate time for prayer, so I was looking forward to my time in “the classroom of silence” as Matthew Kelly refers to it.
     “Stay with Me” is a song that I often associate with my time in Adoration, especially on Holy Thursday as I think of Jesus’ disciples falling asleep when He was praying so hard He sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing the suffering He was about to undertake for our sins. 
     In the past, sometimes our beloved brother-in-Christ John Baab, the woman who is the go-to person for all things liturgical at our parish, Alison Eichler, and I would be the only three left at church come midnight.  I was really excited that there were a number of people who stayed the entire time keeping vigil with the Blessed Sacrament this Holy Thursday.         
  
Good Friday

     I had a special role to play in the Good Friday service this year.  Our brother John and another seminarian from our parish Henry were serving throughout the Triduum since they were in town for Holy Week.  Knowing that Kevin and I are very supportive of religious vocations and have been close with John on his journey, Alison asked that I would be the third cross-bearer when we brought in a wooden cross for all to venerate.  Interestingly enough, I was worried about it being too heavy for me as those at some parishes are quite heavy and require a number of strong people, usually males, to move from one location to another.  Fortunately this cross was relatively light, and I felt quite comfortable in my role of following after the priest guiding us and the two seminarians holding the cross beams.  Kevin and I have been quite grateful that John has helped us carry our crosses, and we are eager to support him however we can, so my role seemed quite appropriate.
     It was beautiful to watch people come up and venerate the cross.  I think my favorite was when someone would come up carrying a small child, and the child would reach out and want to touch the cross and some even kissed it. 

The Easter Vigil

     The past couple years, Kevin, John, and I have watched the movie The Passion some time between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil.  Saturday we watched it just before getting ready to go to church for the vigil.  I was deeply struck by the suffering Christ willingly accepted in order to reconcile us with God the Father.  I found myself praying throughout for those who are currently in agony in mind, body, and/or spirit, especially those who are tempted to lose hope in the Lord, in eternal life, in God’s mercy…
     Kevin volunteered to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, as he often does whenever we attend Mass at our home parish, which reminded us of the first time he ever served which was on Easter Sunday at Church of the Epiphany where we were married.        
     The vigil was quite beautiful, as it always is.  The many Old Testament readings that map out the beginning of Creation in the Bible and hit the highlights of our journey of trusting in God, the wonderful choir, music selections, and impressive instrument section were all glorious.  I’m always struck by the power and majesty of the Easter Vigil Mass, which is the pinnacle of all Masses.  Several people were Baptized, received their First Holy Communion and were Confirmed during the liturgy.
      Witnessing so many of the Sacraments in one Mass with Kevin on the thirteenth anniversary of our first Triduum together and his return to the Catholic faith in which he was raised serves as a poignant reminder of the power of prayer and the Truth that nothing is impossible with God.     
    
Easter Sunday

     Kevin and I didn’t have anything planned for today except a homemade family dinner this evening.  My mom set a very joyful table, made a delicious meal, and helped us really celebrate Easter this evening.  John joined us, and we had a really nice evening breaking bread together and discussing the Catholic faith and what we enjoyed most about this particular Triduum.
     My mom’s always made holidays fun and festive.  This one was no exception.  She even had put together an Easter basket of goodies for Kevin and me. 

     Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Son, who by His Passion, death, and resurrection, reconciled us with You, so that we might bask in Your love and spend eternity in Your Presence.  Amen.
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