Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

He is risen!

I went to Dallas for Good Friday to sing - SO worth it.  Got back to CC in the afternoon on Saturday, just in time to unpack, visit a bit with the sis, and head to the Vigil.  I'd never been to a Tridentine Easter vigil before.  At Cistercian the monks always made the bonfire in front of the church, opened the doors, and brought the candle in while everybody stayed in their places.  Last night the entire congregation plus the monks shivered outside for 15 minutes and watched the bonfire, knelt on the flint rocks for the "Lumen Christi," and processed in by candlelight.  I'll tell ya, though, holding a candle and turning the pages in your missal at the same time is quite a balancing act.

So two and a half hours later we were all significantly chilled, and most of the youngsters were experiencing the sleep-schedule-disruption-high that is so very thrilling while it lasts.  I went home with my favorite goat herders, because we had plans at dawn for hymns on Eagle's Bluff.

Eagle's Bluff at dawn is highly recommended, more so if it hasn't been flooding a week or so back.  Unfortunately, we did have flooding a week or so ago and the banks of the creek were washed out, so the truck couldn't make it through.  But where there's a will there's a way, apparently, even if it means braving 40 degree creeks with sharp rocky bottoms in the clear pink light and all the consequent chill of near-dawn.  But adventures make the heart grow fonder, or whatever, and I suspect that it was more of a bonding experience than it would have been had it been less painful.  The view from Eagle's Bluff was well worth the inconvenience, though, and since the sun was behind us we got to watch the first rays of sunlight falling on the trees way down below us.

Easter at Dawn is such a special moment, but until today I hadn't ever been up for it.  When you go to the Vigil you come out feeling rather like the two Marys when they first found the empty tomb - you know He's risen, but the rest of the world is still asleep and in darkness.  But at dawn the light of the Resurrection puts the shadows to flight, and in all the world no ignorance or lies can stand for long against it.  I guess it's a good lesson for our times, too, when it's so easy to believe that either the world is impossible to save (going to hell in a handbasket! or whatever), or that if the world is to be saved, it has to be through our own efforts against all odds.  But if the world is dark with ignorance and lies, then we are the people living between the Vigil and the dawn, and while we hold on to our faith and the knowledge that He is risen, we can not even begin to imagine the Dawn that is going to break, when He comes again.

Here is a really beautiful description of the Tridentine Easter vigil, from the woman who is my ideal of a mother of a beautiful family.  (Well, besides Mary, but there's the standard of perfection and then there's a model you might possibly hope to live up to, and Mary didn't have original sin, after all.)

(Every time I do links they disappear, so you're going to have to copy and paste)

"After the official liturgy is fulfilled, there still comes for us the observance of some ancient religious customs that belong to the liturgy of the home. In the lantern we take home some of the new blessed Easter light, with which we shall relight the vigil lamp at home. The bottle we fill with Easter water, and on the way out of church we take some of the blackened logs from the Easter fire and preserve them at the fireplace, where they work as sacramentals in times of danger from storms and lightning.

We try to keep up the customs we learned from the people in the Alps when they say the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary on Good Friday. Toward three o’clock of that day the father of the house goes to the corner where the vigil light burns before the crucifix and gravely blows it out; then he pours water on the fire in the fireplace. No flame is allowed around the house between the hour of Our Lord’s death and His Resurrection, in honor of Him Whom we call the Light of the World.

When we return, therefore, in the Easter Night with the blessed light in the lantern, the vigil light is lit from it and also the fire in the fireplace, and all the holy-water fonts are filled with Easter water. "

1 comment:

sarah e. said...

"When you go to the Vigil you come out feeling rather like the two Marys when they first found the empty tomb - you know He's risen, but the rest of the world is still asleep and in darkness."

YES! That is exactly the feeling I usually get after the Vigil, although until now I have never been able to pin it down into words. Thank you for discovering it.

Happy Easter! I'm sorry I wasn't able to see you again before you left!