Sunday, April 8, 2012

Joys of Easter

There is so much more about the Lenten season just passed that I could write about, but all of it is obscured this morning in the bright memory of last night’s beautiful Easter Vigil at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Beverly.

Our pastor, Father Barnes, sang a thrilling Exultet—one that is exactly 23 percent longer in the new translation, he said—and our dear Father Chateau, associate vicar for the past year, was the celebrant.

I was received into the Catholic Church in 2008, so this was my fifth Easter Vigil. As I sat in the front pew in darkness, as third of six readers, I felt the presence of my first friend in the Church, Ferde, the second reader, at my right elbow. I was happy and, OK I admit it, proud to be seated next to Ferde, who has encouraged me from day one, including my activities as a lector.

I thought too of my daughter Marian, whose own baptism and reception and confirmation as a Catholic our family witnessed in Chapel Hill two years ago. And of my father, Dave, who was by my side in 2008 and died six months later to the day. At one moment, I felt his presence as I never had since his death, and the certainty that wherever he is is a good place, and the hope that I will some day find my way to that high ground, as it surely is.

Entrusted with the third reading, about the parting of the Red Sea, I got the Charlton Heston role, not to mention the voice of God. Five years ago, I would have been nervous as heck, but as I listened to Ferde’s wife Heidi (the Creation) and Ferde himself (Abraham and Isaac), I prayed for help, and I suppose I got it.

Father Barnes texted me this morning, saying that I had read like an eyewitness, which was gratifying. I texted back about Marian and Dad and the joy of my 4th anniversary. I also begged him to look kindly on Father Chateau’s homily, which ended with a one-liner and that big, amazing FC grin. The line seemed to jerk FB awake in his seat as the laughter rolled through the Church. I asked him to look kindly because “I may like you but Katie LOVES FC!!!!”

After reading from Exodus, I sat again, but beside Katie, not Ferde, a few rows back from the front, where she had saved me a seat. Being by her side made the Mass especially beautiful, as we have accompanied each other closely throughout Lent.

When the lights came bursting on with the Gloria, I was happy to look around me and see so many friends just behind me and to my left. I will leave out some, I’m sure, but anyway I’ll name Michael and Elizabeth, Ellen, and Robin, as well as Vangie’s beautiful daughter and angelic mother, just across the aisle. I craned my neck to see Vangie herself, singing squarely in the middle of the choir overhead. I would have liked to be singing with the basses just behind her, as I did last year, but for now my place is with Katie. And it is good.

Although it lengthened the evening to almost three hours, having three adults baptized and three more confirmed was really the living heart of the Vigil, new faith flowing into the Church. Each of their faces projected a joy it could not hide.

Friends invited Katie and me for a celebration afterward, but we hurried home to bed. We’re headed to my mother’s place in Connecticut in a few minutes. I wanted to record just a few of my many impressions from last night before leaving.

He is risen.

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