Sunday, April 08, 2007
HE IS RISEN!
You wouldn't believe the joy!
Tonight, I had a front row seat for the Easter Vigil, there as both a teacher and a sponsor, and I was given a place in between the woman I sponsored, whose liflong dream it has been to be Catholic, and her adult daughter on my other side, who was also entering the Church.
We began in the back of the sanctuary, in darkness, witnesses to the lighting of the Easter Candle, and we processed in, to take our places in the front rows. The last light of the evening was still visible through the stained glass windows slowly fading to mark the end of day, even as we were only beginning. The readings were long and somehow, so much more meaningful tonight than they have ever been in my life. We were taken through Genesis, and I found myself silently mouthing the words of Creation, almost overwhelmed with a newfound understanding of God's love for man.
Each one of us there were created by God, for God; each one of us is created in the likeness and image of God; each one of us is there by virtue of God's command to Adam and Even to "go forth and multiply".
There, in the darkness, I wiped tears from my eyes, overwhelmed by gratitude.
This was my first Easter Vigil at my parish, and what a blessing to truly participate in such a degree in the liturgy. I couldn't stop smiling as I witnessed from my front-row seat, the baptism of several catechumans. The tears nearly overflowed as I observed their smiles, and Father, often very solomn, could not contain his own rejoicing.
When it was time, our row filed forward and we stood in front of the Church, candidates in front, sponsors in back, facing the people. After my candidate was Confirmed, she turned to witness her daughter right next to her - both were in tears and I stood back, blinking back my own. I'm sure we weren't the only ones.
I kept forgetting to count, but between candidates and catechumans, we had about 25; what a beautiful witness to us all.
They were so excited to receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time, and I had given a quick lesson to the two who had missed the rehearsal as to what to do. When the time came, they forgot, but that did not impact their joy in finally receiving the Lord.
All Heaven is rejoicing tonight, bringing the prayers of the new faithful to the altar in Heaven.
All the Earth is rejoicing tonight as we celebrate the bonds of death broken by Jesus Christ.
All of Heaven and Earth are rejoicing together in the union of Christ to His Bride, the Church.
And here, in humble Minnesota, the heart of one woman is rejoicing, in solidarity with so many others, having been witness and participant in one of the most beautiful and meaningful liturgies she has ever attended.
My prayers were answered; I asked to be crucified with Christ, I asked to die with Christ, and so he answered consistent with my state in life.
Tonight, I, and all who celebrate his Resurrection, rise again and are reborn.
In the Eastern Catholic Church, during the Easter season they greet each other with the following exchange:
HE IS RISEN!
Indeed, He is Risen!
And so I say to you all:
HE IS RISEN, INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
And I can't believe the joy.