I love the Latin with the double u’s. And we had occasion over the past weekend to find out the real reason that we get Easter Monday off of school. It’s to allow people with small children to recover from the Triduum.
Or not, since I think that’s probably just us. But we survived it – two hours on Holy Thursday with an un-napped three-year-old, two hours Good Friday, and over three hours on Holy Saturday. Here’s the blow-by-blow.
We arrived late for Holy Thursday, because we came straight from New Orleans at rush hour, straight from Craig’s FoodFast retreat at school (that means 50 or so high school students fasting and learning about poverty for 24 hours). I cooked the closing meal, Hatian red beans for 50. That is getting to be my specialty, if anyone needs catering in the near future. (We made it for about 200 the Friday before – that’s another story!)
But anyway, we got there, parked in the boonies, and planted ourselves and our tired babies in a pew. I’d been prepping Lucy for a couple of weeks about the people getting their feet washed and such, but we couldn’t see very well, and she was really too tired to care. Samantha alternately climbed, fussed, and nursed the two hours away. Then it was home to Nana and Papa’s to collapse, except collapsing doesn’t happen at grandparent’s houses, at least not right after you arrive, so we were up for a little longer.
Friday brought sleeping relatively late and the (traditional? I’m not sure) Good Friday fish fry at the Bakers’. More fish, hush-puppies, fries, and the like that we could eat. Then on to the Veneration of the Cross. Samantha was very, very fussy, and I finally ended up nursing her in a side chapel. Unfortunately, it was the crucifix chapel, and rather than bringing up a cross to the altar like I expected, the liturgical plan was to circle everyone through this very chapel to reverence the cross. When I saw the altar servers and deacon headed my way, I had to very quickly detach sleeping Samantha and run for the pew. As much as a person can run with a surprised, yet thankfully still sleeping, toddler in her arms, anyway.
But my close-escape was not the end of our trials. As Craig came up to the chapel in the line (behind me unfortunately, so I didn’t get to see the festivities) Lucy, whom he was carrying, latched onto the wall with both hands and refused to let him enter the chapel. (I don’t think “chapel” is really the best word for this space, now that I think of it, it’s really more of a nook, but that sounds funny to me.) Lucy was apparently afraid of the crucifix, which was strange because the night before she had wanted to stay later so Craig could “show her Jesus”, but that was not about to happen during the silent watching after the Holy Thursday liturgy. Anyway, Craig returned to the pew thwarted. But yet, we survived and went home (well, to Craig’s parents’ home at least), again, to bed.
Holy Saturday dawned. We made one excursion, then made sure there were naps all around. (Lucy has been successfully avoiding them lately, but that was just not an option.) We got all dressed up after a later-than-planned dinner and headed out. Mass started at 8 PM. We were as prepared as parents can be for such a thing – books, a lacing card for Lucy…but no snacks. Well, we were almost as prepared as we could be. The bonfire went well enough. Lucy was interested, but Samantha was fussy. But it wasn’t a big deal since we were outside. The procession inside calmed her down for some reason, and God be praised, she nursed to sleep as soon as we got to the pew. And slept through all the readings, the lights coming on, the Alleluia-ing, the Baptisms, and even the applause that went with them. I didn’t get to see much since I spent the whole time sitting down, but I was so glad she slept.
Of course, she did wake up, as usual it seems, in time for the Eucharistic prayer, and so we spent the rest of the evening back and forth, in and out of the building. There isn’t anywhere to hide a screaming infant in that church. The final outburst, in the liturgical silence just before the closing prayer, was the loudest. Father (apparently, I couldn’t hear it with the screaming in my ear as I rushed -again- for the door) mentioned that it sounded like a broken record, at which Samantha promptly changed her tone. So she showed him. Or something.
But we celebrated with cake and cheese cubes and broccoli and punch afterwards, and slept late on Easter morning. We were tired. It was so worth it. I love the Easter Vigil. I started going in middle school (or earlier?) when my mom was doing RCIA for children. I got to hand the brand-new neophytes (is that redundant?) the towels after they were Baptized one year. I have always loved the liturgy for this night, the fire and water, the litany of the saints, the lights coming on in the middle of the service. The oil and the smiles on 10-year-old faces afterwards. (And Fr. Tom does not spare the oil. He slathers. Even after they changed, the poor boys all had holy-oil cow-licks.) St. Jean does beautiful liturgy, and it was a blessing to me, screaming baby and all, to experience it this year. It was that little taste of the Holy that I miss sometimes now that I don’t get to daily Mass, or adoration, or those other quite times that I used to so often. It was totally, entirely worth it.
Easter included an egg hunt at one neighbor’s house, and then Mrs. Mary Lou’s feast at the other neighbor’s house. Many, many desserts were sampled. A bunny had his tail straight-pinned on. There was a pinata, but I missed that part. Monday Craig and I had a movie date (finally cashing in one of our Christmas presents) and we drove home. And today I finally finished unpacking. We are nearly recovered.