Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gaude et Laetare!!!

Easter IS the best time. I just have to share...

In fact I am particularily partial to Holy Saturday personally.

I remember vaguely (VERY vaguely) back into the shadows of my youngest days. All Good Fridays seemed to be grey and drizzly. We would suffer from lack of food and drink for 3 long (but not endless) hours. We would color pictures of Jesus' passion. We would talk about it in hushed voices. [ Although my mom was always there I am guessing her story would vary slightly from mine :) ].

Holy Saturday was the waiting time. Easter was just about here. Candy was just about to be devoured. When we were just a little older (10ish?) We learned that you could eat some candy at noon on Saturday - whoo hoo!

- - -

In college the mood of Holy Week intensified and grew immensely rich. We were learning whole new avenues, streets and alley-ways of the faith from the great teachers and fathers of the Church. The kitchen (where I was doing work-study) was being scrubbed in every nook and cranny. Up to our elbows in accumulated dirt we were finding out what the kitchen was intended to be - all clean and purposeful (symbolic eh?). At the same time there was a retreat with meditations by our good priests. Ponder the life and suffereings of Christ. Learn stories of the saints. Remind us of things we knew but in ways that were new. Searching our own experience and cleaning our souls (like to the kitchen). Taking flight down and up with the rich ancient music that the Church has reserved especially for this time. Sad to tears. Happy to tears.

Holy Saturday in college was yet again different. Good Friday had passed. Jesus was dead now. We could not save him. We could only wait. We were subdued and serious - waiting. The "fishbowl" classroom - the waiting place between the sacristy and the chapel - was quiet but intense. The brass was out on the table being polished; the vases were being arranged in preparation; the smells of the coming feast were beginning to alight. All were subdued - and serious - and hopeful. Anticipation was growing. The resurrection was coming but was not yet here - we must be subdued - but it was getting harder and harder to do. Easter was unstoppably on its way. Preparations were coming to a culmination. All pointed towards Easter. The relief of lenten sufferings was happening partly due just to the proximity of the end. Hope was easy now. Here the day seemed always sunny.

It was on this day, in the midst of all this rising tide of hope and anticipation that it became finally clear to me that love2learn mom was standing there right in front of me, sunlit and smiling right there where the path of my life was taking me. I didn't propose to her that day but there was never any doubt from that moment on that I should commit myself fully.

Then well after dark a fire was lit in the spring wind and blackness of that mountain valley night. The chant was repeated at intervals as we processed, haltingly, inside: "Lumen Christi". Then the flame was passed from the easter candle to another, and another and another. The mood and the symbolism were in thick, sweet harmony - the light of Christ brought to the darkness of the world was freely shared and not dimished but rather increased by the acts till the glow was all around me and showed the people and the world more clearly than before. The Mass was begun and grew in beauty and brighness as it went on. The careful eager voice of Johnny H chanting the Easter sequence. The youthful voices of the schola and choir with moderate songs at first and rising to a crescendo of Alleluias. It ALL grew brighter and better as the Mass turned time, turned us all, into Easter.

Then in the very middle of the night completely bathed in and surrounded by light of every kind we ended Mass and began to serve the feast. Everyone fresh and happy and talking and drinking and eating. Everyone happy! Happy Easter!!! Gaude et Laetare Virgo Maria. Alleluia!
Quia surrexit Dominus vere Aleluia!
Regina cæli lætare, Alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia:
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Allelluia:
Ora pro nobis Deum, Alleluia

(I turned it around a bit so that I could start with the Gaude. In this re-arranged order it is translated:

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia!
For the Lord is truly risen. Alleluia.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!
For the Son thou wast privileged to bear, Alleluia!
Is risen as He said. Alleluia!
Pray for us to God. Alleluia!

cool heh? You gotta hear it chanted sometime.)

All this is so dear to me. It is a part of me. Each year it touches the inside of me.

This year I was touched again. We decided last-minute to ALL go to the Easter Vigil Mass at the local Shoenstatt center (Good solid Catholic place). It was all dark. In a webber grill outside the fire was lit. The mood was set! (Even little 2-yr-old Frank was now impressed :) The Easter candle was lit and prepared, the service begun. As we turned to head into the Church at the next "Light of Christ" I caught sight of my own god-father. I didn't know that he was still a regular communicant I have been praying for him for years - and here I see him on Good Saturday at a great Catholic place! (Tears of joy again). Gaude et Laetare! Happy Easter! Woo-hoo!