Those who have followed this blog know that I tried hard to apply myself to the disciplines of Lent. My efforts weren’t perfect, but I think back to something our priest said the first Sunday of Lent: “If you get to the end of Lent and you are unchanged, then it was not a successful Lent. You should be able to notice a difference by the end.” By that standard, I think this was a successful Lent. I improved my prayer life, and I think I made great strides in trying to let go of my need to be in control and truly put my trust in God. These are very uncertain times in my life, but I can see a lifelong pattern of God taking good care of me. I know He will continue to do so now and in the future.
And now here we are at the end of Lent! Today starts the series of worship services the Catholic Church calls the Triduum. They are supposed to be viewed as one service, continued in three parts. The traditions are quite ancient, going back to the very beginnings of the church. Our choir will sing at all three services, and I find them quite beautiful. In fact, I’d have to say they are one of my favorite things about Catholicism.
Tonight's service is joyous in nature. It commemorates the last supper, with Jesus instituting communion. There is a ceremonial washing of feet, and all the ministers who help with communion in the church are officially "commissioned" for another year. It's all about community. (This year will hold a special treat for me because Sam went through the training and will be commissioned this year, too.)
Friday's service is just the opposite. It remembers the crucifixion and is very melancholy. In fact, at times it is more than melancholy – downright anguishing. It can be a difficult one to get through, but as a musician I have to note that the music is absolutely gorgeous. And of course, if you don't acknowledge how horrendous the crucifixion was, you can't fully grasp how amazing the resurrection was. There is no “closing” to this service, it just ends in silence and people file out to reflect. It is not a service I enjoy, exactly, but let’s say I appreciate it.
Then at Saturday's service we celebrate the empty tomb. The Mass doesn't start until it's dark outside, this year set for 9:00. It starts out at a bonfire where the Easter Candle is blessed, then the congregation lights candles and processes into the dark church. There are several Bible readings and psalms before finally the resurrection story is read and the lights are all brought up and from then on, everything is celebratory. New members who have been studying to join the Catholic Church come in at this Mass, so there are always baptisms and confirmations at it. At our parish we have a nine-piece orchestra accompanying us, which makes all the music seem special, even the routine mass parts and hymns. But we do some awesome special pieces, too. It is a Mass full of joy. I always leave it feeling great.
I don’t know whether I will blog again before Easter, so just in case I don’t, I wish all who read this a blessed and wonderful holiday. I think we all need a good immersion in Easter joy!