Today was the first time I have not officially celebrated Easter with my family in a very long time (like ever). It was a strange day from that point of view; however, I did have the advantage of getting to see Easter services broadcast from my priest’s dining room with the addition of music from the living rooms of both our gifted choir director and organist, Jeffrey Parola, and one of our very talented choir members, Anthony Ray. Having access to this Easter mass made me extremely happy. To be perfectly honest, I actually listened to it twice. That’s how much comfort it brought to me.
I didn’t get dressed up and attend church with my family this morning. I didn’t serve as an acolyte in church. I didn’t attend coffee hour. I didn’t have a family lunch to commemorate Easter. No Easter Egg hunt with the grandkids. No special dessert to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Instead, I spent the morning with Ray working in a storage unit in Ojai, sorting through antiques and collectibles from an estate we’re handling, while I listened to the mass through headphones on my cell phone. In other words, I was working this morning instead of doing what I have done virtually every other Easter morning for my entire life.
I will admit that it was rather odd and a bit sad for me not to be with my church family on this highest of holy days. In fact, once I tuned into St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood’s video mass and heard the music, I had to fight back tears. I was just so glad to be back in that comforting world. One of the great advantages of having a set liturgy is the familiarity that comes with the ritual. Once the music and the opening prayers start, the entire mass is conducted very much the same every time. Those who don’t like ritual often complain this is too staid and proper (or boring). I would counter by saying that the familiarity of the mass allows one to access a deeper level of connection as a result of the unvarying ritual. You don’t have surprises (or personalities) to muddy up the spiritual waters. Instead, you can settle into the rhythm of the words and gestures, which helps to open your heart and mind. That is my experience anyway and why I am a “high church” gal who loves all the bells and smells (incense) of a traditional liturgy.
Today taught me that while attending church and seeing friends is a wonderful part of my life, it is not nearly as important as cherishing the mass, in and of itself. That is where we are reminded that Jesus endured betrayal, suffering and death as a sacrifice for us, and his resurrection serves as a symbol of love triumphing over evil.
Jesus has risen indeed and in so doing provides hope for a world that sorely needs it, now and always.
I wish you a very happy Easter. May you be filled with hope and love.