My final few #Lent2011 posts are now so overdue that it almost seems pointless but I will finish what I started.
There are three days which form the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. Here is my account of those days…
For me, this is the most beautiful of the three Masses. Some of my reason for this though is due to the fact that the congregation is mostly comprised of practicing Catholics, those who attend regularly and know what is going on. They show reverence and respect and do not fill the space with chatter and confused looks. This is a very harsh comment but I do find it hard to remain prayerful in a place where people don’t take the Mass seriously or see it as “ticking a box” to say “I went to Mass at Easter”. I have very strong views about fair-weather Catholics and etiquette dictates that I should keep those views to myself.
Anyway, Holy Thursday has always held a special place in my heart as a true gathering of the faithful. It is a recreation of the Lord’s Supper. It is a Mass of devotion and service. It encapsulates every good thing I think of when I contemplate my beliefs. The sacrifice, the service, the supplication…and, for me, the song.
The music for Mass that night was “performed” so well by the choir. To conduct it was a joy. It was tiring yet so very moving at the same time. I stayed at the altar of repose and prayed, albeit longer than I had intended, but each second on my knees reminded me that my sufferings are nothing in comparison. How dare I complain about my trivial problems‽ I should be so very thankful that someone had borne my suffering for me.
A solemn day. I woke to the news that my very good friend of some 25 years had died. His death was expected but no less sad. Minutes after hearing this news, I went to Stations of the Cross, a beautiful liturgy which reminds us of the journey taken by Jesus to his death. The words and music of that liturgy were like nails being driven into my heart. I could think of nothing but the loss and the sadness. I sobbed until there were no more tears left.
That afternoon, we had Good Friday Mass (although technically not a Mass) . Another very moving liturgy. The church was packed. Standing room only. Well over 1200 people. It was disappointing to have people chatter mindlessly in the narthex of the church. It did detract from what was otherwise a very poignant liturgy.
My mother joined my husband and I for a meal at our house, as per our tradition. It was good to spend time as a family in this way.
I always find Holy Saturday an odd day. It’s really just a regular Saturday but sandwiched between utter sadness and despair on the Friday and triumphant joy and elation on the Saturday night. In the secular world it is a regular shopping day wedged in the middle of a long weekend. The shops are full of people rushing to get their fresh milk, bread, fruit & veg…and chocolate Easter eggs. So I joined them…for the fresh foods. I dispensed with the chocolate this year. I decided that my body does not need any extra rubbish pumped into it.
That night was the Easter Vigil Mass. Oh night of nights! I love Easter Vigil Mass! (Not as much as Holy Thursday Mass, though.) It was a big night for the choir. It was a big night for cantors. Our resident seminarian and I had been practicing for weeks so that he could intone the Exultet. That was the night our efforts would come to fruition. It was the night that people who have chosen to become Catholic join with us through the sacrament of Baptism. It was a powerful and joyful liturgy. It was the climax of weeks of preparation. It was magnificent!