Happy Easter, dear friends! I hope you are still basking in the joy of the Resurrection. What an Easter season it’s been, and the church is just getting started.
It all kicked off on Saturday evening, what the Church refers to as the Great Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter. For the first time in more than a month, I had the opportunity to attend Mass in person. My husband has been volunteering his time at our parish to stream Masses, including the events of the Sacred Triduum. Earlier in the week he offered that I take his place for one of them – and without thinking I said, “Easter Vigil…please and thank you!”
The Great Easter Vigil is my most favorite liturgy of the year. As I grew in my faith as an adult, it was always the Easter Vigil I preferred to attend. Though long, it is the most elaborate and tangible way for us to experience but a taste, with all of our senses, salvation history: listening to readings from the Old Testament to New, seeing darkness then light, hearing the Exsultet sung then hearing the triumphant Gloria once again with all the bells ringing, smelling the incense, witnessing catechumens enter into the church, and so much more. Since the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, it has been a very long and very complicated journey, but what has remained constant through it all was God’s never-ending pursuit of His people. That night for me, despite the messy state of our world, was filled with great hope and lasting peace. I kept you all close in prayer, as I know so many of us have been physically aching to be near our Lord.
As a family we celebrated a lot of firsts. Normally we spend Easter with our extended family; this time it was just us four. I also volunteered to cook the whole spread of dishes, we dyed Easter eggs, we made a simple Paschal candle for our home oratory, and I scavenged the house the night prior for things to add to the kids’ baskets, which they were so appreciative for… yes, even if the basket included unopened Happy Meal toys (Anna from Frozen and Luke from Star Wars), unused coloring pages and stickers, fruit/veggie pouches from the diaper bag, pop tarts from the pantry. Seeing their reactions and how happy they were totally goes to show how kids really don’t need stuff we might think they do.
On that note, having gone to the Easter Vigil at my parish the night prior, a recurring thought this Holy Week and start to the Easter season was making the most with what we have already at our disposal. There were many things different about the Vigil. In fact many components that typically happen, which I mentioned above, couldn’t happen. The catechumen coming into the Catholic Church has been delayed. There was no fire (at least at our parish), and we didn’t hold candles. We didn’t taste the Risen Lord as we didn’t receive Holy Communion. Nevertheless, it was still good and what was offered to the Lord was the best we could offer despite the given circumstances. Similarly, what we did as a family, with what we already had, was the best we could do. And I believe it was still good.
Finally, one particular thing I have been pondering on throughout this is Octave is a vision of the Risen Christ within our home among us, our domestic church. I’m not talking about seeing Christ by way of sacred artwork or statues, but actually seeing Him – His resurrected body – just like when He visited to homes of the apostles, Our Blessed Mother, or the two disciples with whom He broke bread with in Emmaus.
During this time where the faithful are still unable to attend public Masses, this vision of Christ coming into our homes and bringing peace and comfort to our days has been one of great consolation and hope this Easter. In fact there was a moment this week when I actually got into an argument with Jon, so much so that afterwards I randomly envisioned Christ appearing in our midst and saying “Peace be with you.” This only prompted me to hug my husband and say I’m sorry for being uncharitable. I say envisioned, but I truly believe Christ was present, and said that same greeting to us.
He is present.
This Easter season, though very different, will be good even amidst our trials because of the life-changing reality, that Christ rose from the dead, trampled sin & death, and we, as baptized sons and daughters of God, are called to take this truth—the culmination of salvation history—to everyone. This is the story we were born into. And this is the truth we believe and must bear courageously everywhere we go by the witness of our lives, even right now if it’s within our homes and welcoming the Risen Lord into the messiness of family life – literally and figuratively. He not only brings peace to our homes, but also reassures us to be not afraid.
We will continue to suffer, and things may take some time until they get better. Or perhaps they won’t get better. Who really knows. But the message of Easter is that with Christ, our Victor over sin and death, our true victory lies not in this life, but in the next. We, too, will rise from the dead. Our earthly pilgrimage is merely a preparation for our ultimate home in Heaven.
May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you this Easter season and beyond.