Monday, May 1, 2017

Let the Easter Season Begin: Holy Saturday, The Vigil of the Triduum Continuum

Celebrating the Easter Triduum at St. Michael the Archangel Church felt, sounded, and even smelled wonderful!  This was the first time in three years Kevin and I have both been well enough to go to church together for all of it.  Seventeen years ago Easter weekend, Kevin came to visit me at Hollins University, and we experienced our very own Paschal miracle

The Triduum is such a powerful summary of our Catholic Faith. What a blessing that we are invited to slow down and reflect on Christ's suffering and our own need for conversion during Lent, so that when Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil arrive, we're ready for the Resurrection, renewal, and the rejoicing Easter brings. 

We arrived at church early on Saturday, April 16, 2017, so I had some time to greet people, take photos, volunteer in case they needed additional Eucharistic Ministers, and watch everyone bustle around getting things ready for the main event. 

I was delighted to find out that Sue, the woman I co-teach a 6th-grade small group for religious education was in attendance with her family.  Both of her daughters were getting the rundown of their special duties as altar servers.  It was their first time serving in that role.  I knew she had been hoping all of them would participate in all three days of the Triduum, so I was excited that her wish/prayer had come true and then some.

Fr. Dan Brady and Deacon Andy Ferguson were the two clergy members responsible for making sure the evening went off as the Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church intended.  The person who had been the Director of Liturgy when we first came to the parish had resumed her role as primary layperson in charge.  It felt like old home week.  I knew what to expect, saw lots of familiar faces, and anticipated some beauty to delight me in a variety of different forms.

I decided that I was going to take notes on my worship aid since it was the last evening we’d be using them before they’d go to the recycling.  I took rather copious notes about some aspects of the evening, including who sang what parts, who did certain readings, and some highlights of Deacon Andy’s homily.  I also jotted down the names of the people I recognized when looking around the large church. 

As has often been the case, a member of the choir dressed in white did a liturgical dance during the Creation reading from Genesis.  The cantor led us in a sung response at the end of each day when God found what He had made very good. 

After a series of Scripture readings and sung Psalms, we got to sing the Alleluia for the first time in the Easter season.  In his homily, Deacon Andy spoke about how it had been a little over a year since he’d been in the hospital to have heart surgery.  When he woke up after the surgery, he was truly grateful to be alive.  (This is where my notes and the exact quotes I scribbled in my worship aid would go had I not lost the program I’d written on.) 

Next, the adults who were brought into the Church through RCIA and were being Baptized came forward to the font with their sponsors.  It was powerful to watch the adults get into the fountain in their tan robes in order to be Baptized.  
Fr. Dan thoroughly enjoyed getting them soaked with Holy water.  Next, those who were to receive the rite of Confirmation came forward.  We prayed through song for the Holy Spirit to come using an old Latin chant: “Veni Sancte Spiritus.”

Those who joined us at the Eucharistic table for the first time came forward before everyone else, so they could receive the Body and Blood of Christ in view of the whole congregation.  It was neat to see how excited they were to participate in this essential part of the Mass after learning about it and watching others receive for the past several months. 

This evening, May 1, at our second-to-last session of Middle School Religious education, the Director of EDGE Laura led us in a discussion of the mysteries we celebrated in the few weeks since our last gathering.  We talked about our experience of the Triduum, what we saw, heard, and felt over those three days. Some mentioned how moved they were to see strangers washing each other's feet and hugging afterward on Holy Thursday.  Another remarked that it was memorable to see family members serving in different roles in the church all come together to meet at the Cross during the Veneration service on Good Friday.  A third person shared that the fire outside where the Paschal candle is lit really made an impression on him.   

Laura also invited two teens who were Confirmed last week to come and speak about what receiving the Sacrament meant to them.  Each told us about what they had gotten out of the process of preparing for Confirmation as well as how it felt to receive another outpouring of the Holy Spirit.       

While everyone was sitting in a big circle, Fr. Dan led prayers that we would receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, as well as wonder and awe of the Lord.  We each had a candle (like we do at the beginning of the Easter Vigil), and seven people lit red candles on the center table from the big Paschal Candle from 2012.  

Once all of our candles were lit, we sang some songs that underline the theme of the evening: Mission.  The idea of being sent forth to share the Gospel through our lives was celebrated through sharing, prayer, and song.  Then, it was time for us to leave church to go make a difference. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...