Happy Easter! He is Risen!
Last night’s ceremony was as beautiful as I imagined it would be.
The Easter Vigil, which ended up lasting almost three hours, went off superbly. There was some confusion at the last minute about what I needed to do to be in “full communion” with the Catholic Church, since I am coming from a Protestant background. They decided I should be “conditionally baptized” in case my baptism as an infant wasn’t valid. That just means that if I hadn’t been baptized, I was last night–you can’t be baptized more than once. It seemed a little strange, since the Church recognizes baptisms from other Christian denominations. Usually conditional baptism is used for people who don’t have proof of baptism, or who aren’t sure if they were. But they said they wanted to be safe, since we weren’t sure how the sacrament was administered. In any case, though it was a little startling to be told all of this the day of the ceremony, I didn’t want it to get in the way of enjoying such a special night.
In a way I appreciated being included with the catechumens who were baptized. I went last, so that the priest could remember to distinguish me from the others. They gave me a white robe afterward, and I was given a candle like the others to symbolize our receiving the light of Christ. We then were confirmed, one by one with the priest anointing us with chrism, and then we went before the congregation to receive our First Communion. This part was what I had really been waiting for, but I won’t go into that again here.
I’m not sure what it all means. How have I changed since last night? How is the Holy Spirit at work in me, and is that in a different way than before? I don’t know and may never know fully, but I felt so joyful, so alive. That says something, I think.
I wish you had been there. I don’t know how I can capture in words the beauty of the flower-filled altar, the way the choir’s music filled the arched ceilings and sanctuary, the overpowering smell of the incense that the priest released from the censer liberally. And though the service was formal, at the same time it was joyful and human. At one point after the baptisms we started singing a song in Spanish that the entire congregation began laughing and clapping to. Who says Catholics don’t know how to have a good time?
After the party that the Church held for the newly confirmed, I bought groceries for my Easter feast and went to bed. This morning I’ve been cooking, thinking about the things I’ve experienced and what they all mean, trying to hold onto that feeling of elation and peace. The beef bourguignon is simmering right now in the oven and I am about to go out of my mind in anticipation.
I hope that you, too, get a taste of the Lord’s love for you today. Enjoy His Table, and may you find peace and rest in the good things He has prepared for you.