Category Archives: Easter

Christ’s Decent Into Hell

I wanted to share one of my favorite readings from Holy Week in the Divine Office today. What is truly special about this homily is it’s antiquity, as it comes from the very early days of the Church. I am reposting it in full, I’m sure the author won’t mind the copyright infringement, as he’s been dead for 1800 years or so. I almost wanted to cry after reading this Saturday morning.

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

‘See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Easter Blues / WordPress Move

This is the holiest week of the year. Every day is a Sunday this week. But I am so exhausted I just want to curl into a ball and go to bed.

It’s like this every year. I put so much effort into Holy Week, that Easter week is usually spent in recovery. I’m just beat down tired. I should be stepping up the feast, but the truth is, I don’t even want to cook dinner. Heck, I don’t even want to leave the house.

Chocolate Bunny with tilted eats

There is one shining light in this though. My daughter’s friends all have the week off, so I have free entertainment running around the house all week as the sleepovers and field trips commence. Yes, they are a noisy lot, but as long as I hide in my man cave, (otherwise known as office) I have quiet peace to mull in. Praise the Lord for man cave.

So yesterday, in an effort to remain in the only quiet place in my home and still feel productive, I finally made the switch to WordPress.org.

Now this may seem a rash decision, but the truth is I have been thinking about it for quite a while. The rest of this post will probably only interest other bloggers or people interested in starting blogs.

Now I should let you know, my goal was not to trade one platform for another. It was to be able to have my own platform completely. Let me explain.

There are other blogging sites out there, I’m sure, but the main guys are Blogger and WordPress.com. When I got this crazy idea to start a blog based on my formation process, I simply looked at my favorite few blogs, and did what they did. It worked great, and I was happy with it.

Moving Boxes

Having spent years in website design though, I kept running up against little walls in my site design. Now in honesty, these were few, and I was usually able to find some workaround to get it to still look good, but nothing like what I actually wanted. A great example for this would be comments. I hated the blogger commenting system, and the only way I could get it close to how I wanted was by adding a third party plugin. But this was unwieldy and unfamiliar to readers, and therefore many just were not leaving comments. Arrg.

The truth is, I like to be able to have complete control over what my site looks and feels like, and I kept feeling like I was being put in a Blogger cookie cutter.

Now moving to WordPress.com would not do me any better. I would run into the same problem. Then I found out there were actually two WordPresses, a CMS called WordPress.org, and a blogging site called WordPress.com. Having built several sites in Joomla, I knew WordPress.org was the way to go.

Man yelling at computer

There was an impetus of time though to get this done if I wanted to get it done right. My site is growing extremely fast, (and I am oh so very thankful!) and I would like to be switched before it grew too much.

Now I’ll be honest, I’m still learning a new system, so I have not reaped any benefits as of yet. I can however already see the potential with WordPress is going to outstrip Blogger with ease. I’m really rather excited.

My wife just thinks I’m easily amused.

 

Learning to Bilocate

Deacon classes are always challenging, but my latest task has taken the cake. I am currently studying bi-location.

What the heck is bi-location you ask? Well, to be honest I’m not really all that sure, not having really accomplished it yet, but as I understand, many of the Saints were able to be in two places at once. That sounds particularly challenging since I haven’t really learned to be at one place at once very efficiently as of yet.

So this weekend, at the Easter Vigil, it was time to put my nose to the grindstone and figure it out, because I somehow had to go to both Easter Vigils in my town. (We have two parishes in my city.) Yup, at my parish, I was reading, directing altar servers, helping the catechumen and candidates that I have been working with all year, basically making sure everything went to plan. My kids are altar serving, my wife is an extraordinary minister, we are completely involved in this Mass.

This is just what I signed up for. The Easter Vigil is my favorite Mass of the entire year, and I am knee deep in it’s planning. I’ve been excited for six months for tonight.

On Thursday however, a very good friend gave me a call to offer me a signal honor. Her son was going to be baptized, and she didn’t realize she needed godparents. Of course their Mass is being held at the exact same time as ours.

Really good friend. Really great honor. Really short notice.

(Insert string of expletives here)

Now if this had been a goddaughter, this would have been a piece of cake. I would have sent my wife to represent us, but alas, it is not so. Nope, it has got to be me, and I know it. This boy needs a man to stand with him, and being a godparent is forever, and therefore clearly the more important task.

So I must suddenly learn to bi-locate. We definitely did not cover this in my formation classes.

So here is how it panned out. I showed up an hour early to my parish to help set up and double check that everything was perfect. Check. Jumped into the RCIA class to help with prayers and to congratulate everyone. Check. Got Easter fire ready. Check.

Then off we go. As soon as the crowds leave the Easter fire, I douse the holy barbecue, put it in a safe place and jump in the church to read the first reading. (I was scheduled to read the epistle, but switched with a buddy to get the first reading) Listened to the Easter Praises, and hopped up to read.

What! Dangit, I double checked everyone else, but I forgot to check my own readings! The pages aren’t marked, and the church is packed. I’m up there looking at the Holy Thursday readings! After a couple eons of page turning as hundreds of people stare at me, I find the first reading and go for it. Guess what? Wrong reading. Yup, totally read the wrong thing. Yes, I read a reading for Holy Saturday, just not the reading we had planned on being read.

“The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Walk away from the ambo reverently. Continue walking all the way out the church, hop in car, drive across town, walk into Mass. Stand up for my new godson, finish Mass. Wish all friends there a happy Easter, fly back to my parish, hop in reception, congratulate everyone who just came into the Church, eat cake.

Grab family, fly back to other reception, congratulate godson, eat more cake. Drop off family, walk to church and pick up wife’s car.

Collapse in exhaustion. Sleep until noon. Forget to hide eggs.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a holy and beautiful Easter. But something really got to me.

I was sad that I wasn’t really able to spend Easter with my family. This Easter taught me one thing I knew was going to happen intellectually, but I just wasn’t prepared for emotionally. I have always loved being snuggled up to my wife during Mass, to have my daughter’s hand in mine and her head on my shoulder. I have always been able to be present to them as a husband and as a father.

Being a deacon will mean being separated from my family.

Praeconium

This is the night.

There are so many things I would love to share about this most beautiful night, but as a man aspiring to the deaconate, there is something so special this night that I fell odd talking about anything else.
The Praeonium, or Exultet is the most beautiful song that has ever been sung, and it is sung by the deacon.
This great hymn reaches across time and space, and touches everything that is beautiful about our faith, our relationships with one another, our common heritage as human beings and about the purpose and destiny of our lives.
The Easter Praises have such depth that I could never begin to express how much they mean to me. This song is the very center of why I feel called to be a deacon. If you would like to know more, please read
It’s long, but oh so beautiful.
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!
Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lighting of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.
Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty,
that he who has been pleased to number me, though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.
V/: The Lord be with you.
R/: And with your spirit.
V/: Lift up your hearts.
R/: We lift them up to the Lord.
V/: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R/: It is right and just.
It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart,
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.
Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and pouring out his own dear Blood
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.
These then are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.
This is the night, when once you led our forebears,
Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.
This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.
This is the night that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin,
lending them to grace, and joining them to his holy ones.
This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death,
and rose victorious from the underworld.
Our birth would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!
O truly blessed night, worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!
This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness,
washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.
But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious.
O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.
Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.
May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son,
who coming back from death’s domain
has shed his peaceful light on humanity
and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen