Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I never attended the Easter Vigil Mass while I was growing up, mostly due to the fact that I had siblings who were too young to attend. We always went to Mass on Easter Sunday, after a few dozen chocolate eggs and before a few hundred jelly beans. (All I'm saying is that I put a big hurt on the old pancreas. Big.)

I knew that the Vigil was when people who were seeking full communion with the Catholic Church were accepted into our faith family, and I knew about all the cool parts (the darkness, the big fire) from reading about them. After I attended my first Vigil, as a senior in high school, I came away thinking it was long. And, I am sad to say, that was about the extent of my impression.

After we married, Rob and I followed my childhood tradition of attending Mass on Easter Sunday. When the children came, we clung even tighter to that tradition since our gang seems to implode when they are kept up late. If you keep them up for hours past their bedtimes they revert into little snarling, crying masses of hair and teeth and nails. It's not pretty, and it's better for us to go in the morning, at least in this season of life with small children.

But now I always go to Sunday morning mass and the Vigil, since I am in the choir and almost everything in the Vigil is sung. Last night was my third Vigil in this parish, and it was beautiful. I mean bring-a-tear-to-my-eye beautiful.

During the Vigil, the church remains in darkness while we listen to readings, prayers, and psalms. Then the lights come blazing back during the Gloria, revealing the splendor of the church now that Christ is risen. This is a pretty big moment, since the church has been barren for forty days: no holy water, all of the statues covered in heavy purple cloth, no adornment of any kind, as a fast for the senses. Because the choir members need to see their music in the dark, we get to bring little flashlights with us. That "let there be light" moment sometimes passes by me too quickly.

There was no way it could have passed without notice last night. When the lights filled the church, as the organ started the Gloria, Monsignor nodded to the altar server. She picked up her bells and began to shake them, a little timidly. As soon as her bells sounded, every member of my parish family pulled out a bell and started ringing it wildly. Children stood on the kneelers with their bells, little old ladies pulled huge school bells out of their purses, and our bells in the steeple were ringing out into the night. While the church resounded with "Glory to God in the highest," hundreds of bells were echoing in my chest. I was so moved that I had to stop singing because I was smiling so hard. I could only smile and breathe a prayer in and out.

I'm still smiling today. That's the joy of Easter, my friends, and I wish it for all of you.

The HomeFront Gang in all their Easter finery. (And that is a wad of Tootsie Rolls in Francie's cheek, not chewing tobacco. She knows she can't start dip until she's at least ten. Even if she is a widow)

A little sign of Spring on our dinner table, since the kids did their Easter egg hunt in their
Tundra gear

"Here GeeGee ('Grandmom'), I think these potatoes might need a little
something extra."

Three guesses as to who wrote "HORSE" on their egg before dyeing it, and the first two don't count.

Gangster or hardscrabble newsie with a heart of gold?
You make the call.


  1. Love your description of the Easter Vigil Mass! My family was received into the Church last year at the Vigil. Last night, one of the other women that was received into the Church last year and I were hostesses for a reception following the Mass. It was almost surreal to imagine that it was us a year ago, and it was so great to see everyone afterwards who had just become Catholic. What a blessing!

  2. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Happy Easter to all of you!
    I love the pictures too- they look so adorable and thank you for showing me that I am not the only mother making her kids dress appropriately for church, esp. on Easter Sunday.
    Hope you all had a wonderful day!
    Mirabella MOM
    PS- where did you find the boys' hats?

  3. Happy Easter to everyone at HomeFront Corp!!

    The huddled masses look so adorable in their Easter finest. Just beautiful!!

  4. Your children are beautiful. That Francie is going to have the boys knocking down the door. Your description of the Vigil is so moving. I have only been once and it was moving, but not like yours. I miss bells. Our priest has chosen to stop the bells at the consecration so we can "experience the beauty of silence" or some hogwash. I miss them. And how on earth did you manage to sing in the choir with Bun?

  5. I love Easter Vigil and wished I had been able to be in the choir for it this year. It is my Most Favorite Mass of the year, hands down.
    The kids are adorable. Love the little newsboy!
    Little Brother was sad that Big Brother's suit (from First Communion) was still too big for him, but we did manage to dig up a sport jacket for him to wear with his khakis and tie, so he was quite the little GQ thing, even with the stray Peeps sugar on his collar.

  6. I officially cannot use the excuse "...but I have two kids now!" anymore, now that I have seen that you managed to get four children clean and dressed and to the Easter Vigil. I can barely manage to get my two and myself out, much less clean and dressed to the nines. Good for you! I love the Easter Vigil, too, but I was too scared to attempt it. Now I really feel foolish, after seeing what you managed.

  7. Happy Easter to the Homefront Corp. crew!! Adorable picture. Bun is as cute as a button!!

  8. Anonymous11:28 AM

    We also received 4 men into our church family during the vigil at ICC this year, including one Baptism...the young men looked so radiant, probably akin to the way the 'heavenly messenger' at the Tomb looked to the gals who went there the first Easter morning...It was indeed beautiful,but we haven't had the full complement of bells since Msgr.K. left...pity...the bells, the candles, the trumpet really bring the Easter message home...
    After celebrating in church, we turned to the family for the rest of the beautiful Easter Sunday. We were all together,(thank you my beautiful children and husband,son-in-law and grands...)and enjoyed a peaceful, sunny, "delicious" day at the HomeFront Corp. We even had a few hours with the lovely Becahawkette...Even Bun managed a wee "smile" ...I love you all and am so grateful to God for my abundant blessings.
    We also managed to see T and Princess for a few minutes. Both are as lovely as spring tulips (my favorite flowers)...Blessings to all during this most holy season of the Christian church...


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