We’re into the homestretch now and there is something I find really fascinating about Holy Week. There is more drama in this one week leading up to Easter than in all the four weeks of Advent: Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the betrayal, a different kind of parade through the streets of Jerusalem, and His death.
It doesn’t have the same fanfare as Christmas, nor the same commercialism — a few chocolate bunnies is nothing compared to the months of lead up about what should be under the tree. At the same time, I feel it makes Easter more special that it doesn’t have an exclusively secular appeal. There will be TV specials about bunnies and egg hunts and discounted chocolates and marshmallow chicks, but never enough to detract from the true meaning of the day. There’s no War on Easter for anyone to complain about, and few decorations to offend non-celebrants. It’s still pretty much a holiday reserved for those who believe.
Nothing quite brings home the significance of the week more than the Easter Vigil. Three hours in church leading up to midnight, the Passion, lighting candles, reciting saints’ names, it’s pageantry unlike any other — the showstopper of the year. And when you think about it, isn’t resurrection a whole lot more impressive than being born?
We celebrate the Resurrection every time we take Communion; we’re reminded of the miracle at every Mass. Which is why I think it’s rather beautiful that there is such a spectacle to the Vigil itself.
Now, to be perfectly honest with you, though I’ve attended in years past, I don’t think I’ll be going to the Vigil this year. I’m headed home to stay with my family on Thursday, help my mother with preparations for Sunday, and when they go to Church, I’ll go with them. Like Christmas, Easter is a time for family, even if there aren’t gifts to exchange or quite as many cookies to share around, but it’s still a very special time to be together. So Easter Sunday Mass, truncated though it may be and with fewer visual effects than Saturday night, will still be something special.
On the day before the Last Supper, I’m wondering how others celebrate the season — how do you? Do you sit though what my friend calls “the Catholic test of wills” or attend the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday? Is Easter also a time for family in your home, and are there any traditions you look forward to?
Lastly, let me admit a little vanity: It’s a point of pride for me that I have succeeded in not eating meat on any Friday of Lent this year (I know Good Friday is still to come, but it seems almost incomprehensible that I would forget on that day.) I haven’t accomplished this…ever. And, for a change, the total for my Penalty Box hasn’t risen this past week. There may be some hope for me yet.
Penalty Box Tally: $9.00
(Amanda has given swearing up for Lent and donates $0.50 every time she slips. Check out all of her posts here.)