Meditation on The Easter Vigil
by Trudy Whittaker
used with permission
We have always taken our babies and toddlers to the Easter Vigil Mass, and Midnight Mass at Christmas. They always slept through much of it (they are so oo good when they are asleep, aren't they?) Anyhow, they all have always just loved these special Masses.
It may seem foolish, or a little difficult, but I wouldn't change the way we have done it. The older kids talk about when they were younger, and they would be woken up to go to church in the dark, and then, as they were older, they were allowed to get dressed in their best clothes, and lay down on the couch in the living room, and listen to suitable music until it is time to go. They love the New Flame, and seeing the light spread throughout the church. They love the Exultate. They also love to remember the bats.
One Easter, while the Exultate was being sung, a bat flew around the cantor while he was singing about all the winged creatures - right up there in the sanctuary! My kids, up in the choir loft - most of them were in the choir by then, were fascinated by the wave like effect of the people in the pews ducking while the bat flew over them. The Pastoral Assistant locked herself into the little room where the attendants robe themselves. Ah, memories!
They love coming home, still singing, to a special light meal. There have been Christmases that we have driven home through softly falling snow. The Easter rides home when our hearts are bursting with the greeting Christ has truly risen. The Alleluias song by hoarse voices after the glorious triumphant fortes in Church!
So we have started, and pray God so we will finish, with our children bringing us in wheelchairs, and propping us up for one last final glorious Alleluia.
I don't care if we'll be doddering off to sleep all through it. I want to be there!!!
I respect people's reasons for going to the other Masses with their young families. It always was a real challenge to go with a carful of little kids (Our oldest are all two years apart in age.) Taking them might have been insane - but it has been a glorious insanity!
Maybe I'm being picky, but should not be called the Holy Saturday Mass - it is the Easter Vigil Mass, and it marks the beginning of Easter Sunday. There is NO MASS between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. Holy Saturday is a quiet day - The Lord is in His Tomb. The whole Church pauses - and waits.
I find that this is one of the hardest things to do - to keep that atmosphere of quiet waiting in our home on Holy Saturday. Remember, it was the Sabbath, and the Apostles could not go to the tomb - they had to keep holy the Sabbath - it is the day of rest. And so, in the midst of all their sorrow, fears, discouragements, feelings of guilt, perhaps, they rested. Waiting for hope beyond hope - waiting and praying - and for what?
The Easter Vigil carries on this theme of waiting, with the readings from the old testament, We join the whole Church in the ancient prayer of the faithful, that so beautifully prays for the whole of the world
My Sunday Mass Book states:
On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of 50 days. On this day Holy Communion may be given only as viaticum.