Growing up, I fell in love with the Christmas Midnight Mass and the Easter Vigil. This weekend, I fell in love with the Holy Thursday Mass and the Good Friday services, too. My family and I are blessed to be parishioners at a Fraternity of St. Peter parish. This year, our pastor, Fr. Saguto, had some assistance from another FSSP priest and an FSSP seminarian, enabling him to celebrate Solemn High Masses for Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil.
Holy Thursday's Mass was celebrated at 8:00 p.m. and all of my children participated fully, watching the translation of the Blessed Sacrament and the stripping of the altars in awe. On Good Friday, we all went to confession, listened to the sermons, participated in the Stations of the Cross, and assisted at the Solemn afternoon Liturgy. The Good Friday Liturgy included the chanting of the Passion according to St. John. It took my breath away.
The Easter Vigil began outside at 10:00 p.m. with the lighting of the Easter fire and the blessing of the Easter candle. After everyone returned to the church, we listened to the Lessons, Canticles, and Collects by candlelight. Finnian and Patrick slept. Elizabeth woke and sat wide-eyed in my lap, looking in silence at the candle in my hand. She remained quiet for a long time, but knowing that she had only taken one nap and might get cranky, I decided to push her in the stroller behind our pew. As the Solemn High Mass began, Fr. Saguto said, "Gloria in excelsis Deo." The lights were turned on, bells rang, and the organ, which had been silent throughout most of Lent, boomed so abruptly that Finnian awoke with a start and fell onto the floor. With the organ muffling his crying, I picked up my son and carried him outside the church. After consoling him, I returned to the church and placed him in the stroller where he fell asleep once more. Theresa eventually took a short nap under the pew. My older children and I listened and responded, while Elizabeth silently looked around and wandered. Elizabeth remained awake, quiet (save for when she fell) and wide-eyed throughout the Mass. She traced her finger along the IHS and cross on the pew, held my finger, pulled me towards the statue of Mary, and hurried to her daddy when he came and knelt down with us before going up to receive Communion.
As we drove home, a little after 3:30 in the morning, my husband said, "I wish we lived within ten minutes of the church, so we could go to Easter Sunday Mass, too. I know that I am too exhausted to make the drive tomorrow morning." I prayed silently, "Please let us live within ten minutes of an FSSP parish in the near future."
O God, who, on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, hast conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life, give effect by thine aid to our desires, which Thou dost anticipate and inspire. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .
Collect from Easter Sunday