Remembering what Easter is all about

First off, I have to thank Jack for working for me so I could sing at Easter vigil.

It was innocent enough. Our church hosts a fish fry once a year, and as we sat eating the music minister came around and first asked my children to be altar servers for the vigil Mass, then asked if I would cantor one of the psalms. Sure, I said, if he would take care of getting substitutes for us for the early morning Mass. On Monday I heard Jack asking for a swap, and realized I had committed to sing on a Saturday night I was supposed to work. But we made the trade, and our music minister made the trades, so all was well.

Easter vigil is a long Mass. My husband and I were trying to remember when we last had been, and we didn’t remember coming since the children were babies. Too hard to keep them content that long.

How long? Mass was two and a half hours. Really.

My friend Ken Stroebel had a theory that the only way Catholic churches filled up for Easter vigil was from people confessing to truly awful sins, and being instructed to go to vigil Mass as their atonement.

As it turns out, it was the best Mass I have been to in a long time. Even my daughter, who sometimes protests both over serving and over going to Sunday Mass when she has to go during the week for school, asked if we could go to Easter vigil every year.

The church was largely dark through the readings, prompting closer listening. This posed a couple of problems – for instance, when I was done singing, I couldn’t see the edges of the steps that lead down from the altar, because they are carpeted in deep purple – but also brought out candles, lit from a communal flame and spread with the words, “Share the light.” I always find staring into flames calming.

We also had people joining the church, and very excited about it. Their baptisms were very wet, and they shared their stories, including the man who said he wouldn’t have to sit alone anymore while everyone else went up to communion. He would be fully part of the community.

There was a glorious sense of community throughout the church, even more so than usual, and we have been quite happy since getting a new pastor who is a true shepherd. I don’t think anyone minded the length of the service, because it was so inspiring and enjoyable. And I too had been thinking what my daughter said: I want to go to Easter vigil every year.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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