Monday, April 9, 2012

My Favorite Time of the Year

Easter has always been my favorite holiday of all.  There was always something about Easter that made me feel complete.  I never really understood it as a kid, but as an adult I have begun to love the week leading up to Easter just as much even though it's a time of great fasting and sacrificing.

Holy Week has become my favorite week of the year.   We usually have school right up until Good Friday, but this year we were able to take off Holy Week.  (I love making my own schedule!)  I was able to pray, fast, read, meditate the whole week.  It was a much more meaningful week.  It was also a very humbling week for me as I realized just how blessed I am and yet how unworthy I am of all the blessings that I have been given.

Holy Thursday was spent reading, meditating, and praying.   I kept the lights low, so the house stayed very quiet even the kids read, prayed, and stayed quiet.  The Holy Spirit led my day and helped me to really see the way God was working in our lives and how truly blessed we are.  I was also led to the answers to some of the questions I had been asking and praying about throughout the 40 days of Lent through my reading and prayer.  It was a very peaceful and enlightening day for me.

This year several homeschooling fathers were asked to have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  The fathers then in turn would wash the feet of their wives as a testament to the gospel reading, "Do as I have done."  As Father washed the feet of my husband, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I am truly lucky to have such a wonderful husband that tries his best to lead his family to Heaven by following Christ's example.

As my husband washed my feet, I was reminded at how blessed I am to have this man love me with all his being.  There is no doubt in my mind regarding his love for me.  This love is a true example of unconditional love.  He loves me as Christ loves His Church.  I was moved by his example again after Mass when we went across the street for Adoration.   I know that he was intensely praying for his family during that hour on his knees in front of that tabernacle.  He once again was doing as Christ did---praying for God's will for our family and courage to follow that call.

Good Friday is a day that our whole family looks forward to each year especially the kids.  Not because of a huge family gathering or because of a big crawfish boil, which are big in Cajun country on Good Friday, but because of a six-mile walk that we take.  We have been attending a 6-mile Way of the Cross walk in a nearby community the past few years.  We walk, we pray, and we fast.  It's a long day that seems to fly by.  It's a beautiful day of reflection on the Passion of Our Lord.  We begin at the church with the first two Stations of the Cross.  Then we pick up our crosses, both figuratively and literally, and begin to take part in a very, very small part of Christ's passion.  The men take turns carrying a large, heavy cross while the women and children each have smaller crosses of our own to carry.  We stop after each mile to read, meditate, and pray on two additional stations of Our Lord's Way of the Cross.

This year's walk effected me more than the last few we've done.  It was partly due to the fact that the numbers in attendance this year were greatly down from the past years.  It saddened me.  Another reason was that I had many "crosses" to carry this year.  Even though this past year has been wonderful for us, it hasn't been so great for others in my life.  So, as I walked, I prayed for those in my life that I felt could most use my prayers and my sacrifice.  I think it was more meaningful because I didn't offer up my discomfort (blister caused by broken shoe and hunger/thirst) for myself; I offered it up for others.  I was walking with a mission:  healing for others,  conversion of others, joy for others, reunification of families.

After the walk, we returned to our own parish for the Veneration of the Cross.  Once again, emotion filled me as our two priests laid prostrate before the altar.  The amount of reverence these two men have for our Lord on any given day fills my heart with emotion.  But on the day of the Lord's crucifixion, at the hour of His death, seeing them lying there in the most vulnerable position, was almost too much.

The line to "Kiss the Cross" seemed much longer than usual which helped to ease my frustration from earlier in the day at the sight of numerous "parties" that we had passed on our way to the church.  It made me think of the many years that I had done the same, and I felt ashamed that it took so long for me to figure it out.  During the Veneration, my 4 year old godchild caught my attention when she began to cry as her mom carried her back to the pew after venerating the cross.  A few moments later my heart melted when I noticed them back in line; she had been upset because she had not gotten to kiss the cross.  The innocent smile that crossed her face as she looked up from kissing the cross moved me to tears once again.

Friday evening found us curled up on the sofa watching Jesus of Nazareth.  For the past few years, the men of the house have watched The Passion of Christ, while we ladies watched a cartoon version of the Passion in another room each Good Friday evening.  This year we chose to watch something altogether.  It was a great way to end our day of prayer and fasting.

The Easter Vigil on Saturday would prove to be the perfect end to a very blessed Holy Triduum.  Our oldest son was altar serving, so it made the evening more special for us.  We began outside the church for the Blessing of the Fire.  We were up front and were able to see preparation of the Easter candle.  Once inside, the dark church began to fill up with the light of Christ as the altar servers began to light our candles and the light was passed on from one person to the next until the church was well lit.  Passing the light of Christ to others is exactly what we are all called to do.

I know the seven readings seem to turn people away from attending the Easter Vigil Mass, but I love hearing the history of my faith in the readings beginning with Creation.  I love listening to the chimes as God "speaks" in the first reading.  Then I anxiously await the turning on of the lights at the Gloria every year.  Such a little flip of a switch has such a huge impact on me each year.  It's almost as if Christ rises again in that very moment.  This year, we had three adults confirm at the Vigil.  It's always wonderful to see people returning to the Church at Easter.  We followed Mass with ice cream Sundaes before returning home (maybe a new tradition in the making).

Easter Sunday was spent celebrating with family and family friends.  The day had finally arrived, and we could enjoy the wonderful Easter blessings that we had fasted from and prayed about for the past 40 days.

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