Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blogging the Monastic Triduum ~ Easter Vigil (Service of Light)

This is our 5:30 AM service, a continuation of where we left off last night from leaving church. Again, as I said, our Easter vigil is different than you'd find in a parish; this is Part II of our extended vigil service.

We begin outside, in the small parking lot in front of the monastery. It is dark at this point, but we have the light of the Easter fire (which apparently has been lit for the Sisters by members of this one family for I'm thinking forever). The fire is blessed, and our prioress will prepare our Paschal Candle with the alpha and the omega, the numerals 2006, and five grains of incense. This candle is then lit from the blessed fire. One of our sisters will then sing the Exultet, a glorious proclamation of our own Passover experience (sorry, it's hard to condense it into a nutshell blurb -- I tried. Besides, it's late!).

I don't remember if we do the Exultet outside or after we've processed into church (I'll edit after the service if I think of it), but at some point in there we each light our own candles from the Paschal candle, and we see the light gradually fill the church, which is completely dark (except for our candles, of course).

Until ....

We sing the Gloria. For the first time since the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we sing "Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to God's people on earth." And we don't just sing the Gloria. No, we let it all out. After all, Jesus has conquered death! We literally pull out all the stops. The pipe organ is wide open; the brass and timpani blare their praise; and all the lights come on full-force to show a church filled with candles, flowers, light, and glory. And the bells, which have been replaced by a wooden clacker these three days, ring out for the whole town to hear throughout the entire Gloria. It's been over six weeks since we've had a celebratory feel, and we make the most of it.

Especially after these three days of Triduum silence, a dark and barren church during services, small electric organ only for giving pitches .... you can't help but feel the difference, to realize that something truly spectacular has taken place. It all makes the 5:30 A.M. start time very much worth it.

We have a reading from Paul's Letter to the Romans (continuing last night's sequence of scripture), where we are told:
If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.

Then, for the first time in over six weeks, we can say the forbidden A-word as the Gospel Acclamation. (And believe me, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours, we very much make up for lost time – we'll be saying Alleluia before and after every psalm for the next 50 days!). And we hear Mark's version of the Easter story, where the women discover the empty tomb.

While we don't have any baptisms, we still take the opportunity to bless the water of our font, and we all then renew our baptismal promises, professing our faith and renouncing evil. (Funny story about that ... when my one nephew was being baptised, my godson was two and in the back of church with someone. The priest asks "Do you renounce Satan and all his evil ways?" My godson, from the back of church, yells "Noooo." I'm so proud of him!)

And, after that, we continue with Mass "as usual" .... except for lots of big music, celebratory stuff, and songs with more Alleluias than any other words.

After Mass, we all head over to the monastic dining room for an extra-special breakfast, complete with tablecloths and jelly bean bowls on every table. Of course, there's lots of talking that takes place, and it's not until we finish our leisurely meal that it strikes us that on any other Sunday we wouldn't even be up by now! People then chill out for a while (or sleep!), and then we have midday prayer (which never happens on a Sunday except Easter), followed by the noon meal. Then there will be Bingo or Bunco or some other form of whole-community recreation mid-afternoon, Evening Prayer (complete with lots of Alleluias, of course!), and a "picnic" supper (part because we've had two big meals already, and part because that way our kitchen ladies can go home after the noon meal to celebrate with their families).

And, unlike folks at the monastery, who get a "delayed opening" tomorrow .... I get to drive back to Loovul and figure out what exactly I'm gonna talk at my kids about all day without falling asleep. And decide if I have grown-up clothes clean to wear to school. And remember that I'm prayer leader at the house this week, and that I need to plan out the hymns, etc.

One thing's a given ...... there'll be lots of Alleluia hymns in the rotation this week!

Happy Easter, folks. And if you're not an Easter kind of person ..... well, then, Happy Springtime Sunday!


Blogger Lorem ipsum said...


4/16/2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous jeana said...

Despite your protests, I knew you were a nun at heart, Steph. :-)

And I also was meaning to look up the word carbunkle. You say that and I imagine a barnacle on a car door.

Nice capturing of Triduum. Happy Easter, and thanks to all for the job prayers!

4/16/2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger see-through faith said...

so how did you progress into the church ???

4/21/2006 8:17 AM  

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