Monday, March 24, 2008

Heavenly Ham... the name of the breakfast meat we enjoyed for Sunday's Easter brunch with Ryan's family. And man, oh man, was it good!

Ryan and I have been celebrating Easter since the Vigil on Saturday night. It's really been one of my best feast day culminations. We prayed hard on Good Friday and are currently enjoying the post-sacrifice festivities.

Saturday night was the Notre Dame Basilica Easter Vigil mass. Ryan and I learned from our mistakes on Good Friday and made sure to show up before the church doors opened on Saturday. We were waiting outside at 10 til 7:00pm, and the Vigil didn't even start until 9:00pm! It all worked out and we found seats with our friends again (and not quite as close to the back door). The pews were still cramped beyond comfort, but can you really complain that too many people want to go to the Easter Vigil? It was a beautiful mass, all sung by the ND Liturgical Choir, and accompanied by organ, horns, and cymbals. The choir's high point was their rendition of "This Is The Feast of Victory For Our God" at the end of mass - so good! After mass our entire exuberant group went out for Easter midnight breakfast/lunch/dinner at an all night diner. We must have seemed so odd to the other patrons - dressed in church clothes, giddy from hunger and excitement, and talking a hundred miles a minute.

Sunday morning, because we are gluttons for sleep deprivation, Ryan and I attended an Easter morning mass with his family. His mother prepared a lovely brunch of glazed ham and chocolate cake - a perfect Easter combination! We spent the late afternoon and evening with my family, consuming our second wonderful meal of the day: flank steak and plenty of wine. It was a full day of family quality time and, as usual, Ryan and I stayed to hang out far past our bedtime. It's nice having both families so close to home. We are able to split (sometimes share) holidays for a minimal amount of driving.

So, I have been thinking about the differences in my experiences at the ND Easter Vigil on Saturday and the FUS Easter Vigil 3 years ago. They give very different impressions from one another, and I think music style has a lot to do with it. ND sang/chanted the entire mass, with the choir leading the way from their ceiling loft. At times I felt like I had stepped back a hundred years ago, the feeling of tradition was so strong. I also felt as though their Easter mass was so solemn that it was missing a little of the unfettered joy I had previously experienced at the FUS Easter Vigil.

The Franciscans go all out for the Easter Vigil. The first half of mass occurs in total darkness, even while the readings and psalms occur (ND lit the Easter candles before the readings). The altar is bare until halfway through mass when a huge flower procession marches through to dress the altar. The baptisms are full immersion, accompanied by passionate and joyful praise & worship style music (think guitars, drums, flutes, violins, vocals - the works). All of the music caters to the charismatic feel typified by the University. The whole time you just want dance for joy before the Lord, like David danced before the Ark of the Covenant. It's incredible, even if you don't usually get into Catholic charismatic style of prayer.

What I realized is that I really enjoyed the different styles at ND and FUS for different reasons. I liked the ND Good Friday mass because of the solemnity and traditional choir. It allowed me to meditate deeply on our Lord's Passion and death. On the other hand, I enjoyed the FUS Easter Vigil so much because of the unrestrained joy which filled the entire congregation. You can't help but be moved to tears by the Sacraments of Initiation granted to those entering into the Church. Their joy became my joy.

It's wonderful to belong to a Church which includes such varied styles of worship. I am so thankful to have the different Easter Vigil experiences. Broadening my prayer styles stretches my soul and helps me to be vulnerable before my God. I can't wait to find out what happens next Easter Vigil!


Scribbit said...

We kept pretty quiet here this weekend, Easter took me by surprise this year I guess. It's a little hard to think of the holiday when there's still so much snow!

Meta said...

And then there's Easter morning mass with a cantor who really wants to be a solo artist instead of leading the congregation... that's always rough. I did miss Steubs this year. Esp. after the Holy Thursday liturgy--I just wanted to process from FFH to CTK with my candle in hand chanting with everyone and then stay in adoration all night long... so beautiful. We'll make it back again someday, but here's to the current season of our lives!

And I missed you at adoration on Monday. No Clementine and literally no one else in the building but me. I had a little P&W session by myself, but wished you were there. I thought about calling again, but didn't know if using a cell phone in adoration was acceptable...