As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Grand and the Grandeur

This year, as we have often done in years past, we took our kids to the Easter Vigil. It didn't come without much back and forth though.  It's long, it's late, the kids are WI-RED at that hour of night.  My three-year-old is in a particularly difficult stage of development where he screams like Gollum from Lord of the Rings at the mere thought of the word, "No."  We knew it would be good for them to go, but we weren't sure if it would be good for us.  In the end however, we did decide to go. And I'm so glad that we did.I should say that before I write the words, "It was a great evening for all of us" (it was), and "The Lord taught me so much about what's really important" (He did), that I had a major meltdown at two of my kids during the course of the evening.  I was short-tempered and impatient, and frustrated at having to leave my pew several times for a screaming toddler, and to take an impatient Kindergardener to the bathroom mere moments after I had just returned from the bathroom with another child.  I may have (did) threaten to take away Easter treats if they didn't wait. They didn't wait.  But I didn't take away the Easter treats, either.  Because that was a threat made out of desperation and impatience on my part, one which I eventually apologized for.  It was good, so good.  But also bad at times too.

And yet, despite the darkness in my heart at times, there was so much light.  Seeing my little ones in complete awe holding their vigil candles in the dark church, the resounding voice of our Bishop ringing out the exultet acapella, the readings from the Old Testament that were so cool for the big boys to listen to, the narratives that seem like they were written especially for little boys and seeing them actually listen, pay attention, and even once say, "that's cool!"  Being wrapped in these ancient customs and traditions that we don't get the opportunity to experience at any other time of the year struck me to the core, and for all the difficulty that comes along with it, I'm so glad we did bring them.

The parishioners and clergy alike were all thrilled to see the kids at the Vigil, and full of praise for them.  And It's tempting to think that it's too long or too late for them, but when I think of the other things that I would decide to let them do even it if was too long or too late (a movie, for example, or a special visit from a friend) I knew that doing this with them on one special night was not asking too much - indeed, it sets this celebration apart.  And I'm so grateful for this stage in life too, to be able to do something like this.  Something that was so far beyond reach for us when they were all so little.  Now that everyone's a little older, it makes the craziness a bit more bearable.  The screaming toddlers and fitgety preschoolers are somehow tempered by the obedient (if sleepy) older kids.  

The most profound moment for me was walking back from Communion.  We were the last people to receive Communion (since we sat near the back), and the end was almost near.  We were alone walking back to our seats, as everyone had already received Communion and returned to their seats.  All the crazy, hectic busyness of earlier in the Mass, the struggling with kids, loosing my temper and reconciling with them, letting go of my deep desire to be the calm, collected mother who has everything in control, gave way to this very moment.  Surrounded by the grandeur of this cathedral, it's high arching ceilings, beautiful stone statues of Mary and the Saints, the pipe organ chiming the most beautiful and ancient hymn from above in the choir loft brought forth the risen Christ in my own heart.  This is why this is important.  We are only a small part of this grand, magnificent Church, the Church Christ Himself founded.  The Christ we celebrate this very evening, victorious over death, victorious for us.  What an incredible thing to behold!  It is not too long or too late - in fact, the length and the lateness add something even more profound to the celebration.  While all the world is crawling into their beds, we are here, celebrating the greatest feast of our whole liturgical year.  A feast not for the ancient times, but for the here and now.  

My prayer at that very moment was that this same grandeur that was enveloping me would reach into the hearts of each of my children.  And that was the exact moment that I knew it was all worth it.  I can't reach into their hearts and inspire faith - only God can.  And for all my good words and actions (or the profound lack thereof) only Jesus can make this real for them.  I pray that He does.

Happy Easter everyone!  May the joy of the risen Christ resound in each of our hearts this blessed season!

"Did the grass sing?  Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?
Over and over like a trumpet on the ground
Did the earth seem to pound, 'He is risen!'
Over and over in a neverending round, 'He is risen!'
Alleluia! Alleluia!" 
(Steve Bell)

1 comment :

  1. Happy Easter! We've taken our young ones to Easter Vigil many times. There's just nothing to compare to the beauty of that particular Mass. So glad to have stopped by via Catholic Women Blogging Network :)