It’s about four o’clock on Easter morning and I’ve just finished nursing my little baby boy. Although I know I need rest, I was too restless and had a hard time falling back to sleep. So, why not do a little writing?
Last night my family and I attended the Easter Vigil at our church. It was my first time attending this special service. I’d only ever gone to the Easter morning mass. Earlier this week, my husband and I went back and forth trying to decide if we would go to the Easter Vigil on Saturday or the Easter morning mass on Sunday. I suggested going to the Easter Vigil so that we could relax a little on Easter morning with our children before heading off to our hometown for a busy day visiting our family. However, this was just a bit of an excuse. I really just wanted to experience the Easter Vigil.
Why did we go back and forth so much? Well, the Easter Vigil service begins in the evening and typically lasts at least two hours. (I was told it lasted three hours last year. Eek!) Oh, did I mention we have three kids who are four years old and under? My husband thought it was a little ridiculous to even consider bringing our children to such a long mass. Although part of me agreed with him, I couldn’t help but feel a tugging at my heart to attend this year. But I didn’t argue with Dear Hubby and just let it go and let him make the decision. Well, my husband must have felt the little tugging in his heart, too. On Thursday, he said he’d changed his mind and wanted to attend the Easter Vigil. I was surprised and overjoyed that he was willing to go, especially considering that the Final Four was playing during the service.
So, last night, we got the kids all dressed up and ready to go and hopped in the minivan. I was a little afraid of what kind of challenges were ahead of us as we walked from the parking lot to the church entrance. Our little two year old son can be quite the unpredictable loose cannon. I said a quick prayer asking the Holy Spirit to come to our aid during what could be a three hour mass. My fears and anxieties subsided for the moment.
We walked into church only a couple minutes before the service began. It was a little more crowded than we had expected. The church was not only crowded, but also dark. (The Easter Vigil begins in darkness.) As we struggled to find a place to seat our family of five, I became a little anxious. Maybe this was a bad idea. I made those thoughts of fear go away again with a quick deep breath of prayer and walked on, holding my daughter’s hand as my husband carried both of our sons.
We approached the pew where we often sit. (It has the perfect space for a baby carrier.) It wasn’t looking like were going to get a place to sit. We were about to turn around and head for the cry room, when a woman in the pew stood up and said, “Oh, there’s only one of me. There is a lot of space right here where your family can fit if I sit elsewhere.” As I sit here and write I get chills because, honestly, I don’t know where she went after she offered her seat to us. What I’m about to say is going to sound totally cheesy, but I don’t care. It was almost like this kind lady was an angel that was sitting there just so she could save just the right spot for the five of us to sit. Really, the spot couldn’t have been more perfect. A good friend, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, was sitting right in front of us. It was so nice to see her and introduce her to our newest baby. Another friend was serving as an usher and “stationed” right behind us. She came to our aid several times throughout the two and a half hour service, picking up pacifiers and a stuffed animal and also helping bring Communion to me when my four year old daughter was passed out on my lap.
After being a bit anxious about bringing young children to such a long service, our children were as well behaved as they could be. Four year old Little Lady was an angel, singing and listening attentively until she fell asleep. Although we were hoping he’d fall asleep, our two year old Little Guy somehow stayed awake the whole time. He did certainly have a couple two year old “moments”, but the for the most part he behaved better than he does at a normal one hour mass. Most of his misbehavior included a lot of giggling as he pulled his little baby brothers fingers and toes. (Oh boy!) And he did occasionally toss his stuffed animal. My husband called it quits as soon as Little Guy whipped his pacifier two aisles ahead of us. Oops! They walked the halls for the rest of mass. But at that point, it was almost two hours in, so I would say that was a big success. Our seven week old Littlest Guy was perfect. I had to take a break to feed and change him and then he just slept.
I’m so glad that we didn’t let fear prevent us from attending the service last night. Sure, attending the two and a half hour Easter Vigil with three children wasn’t a walk in the park. But the absolute beauty of the whole ceremony helped us “happily struggle” through the evening. It was so amazing to see the church light up as the whole congregation lit little handheld candles, one by one. The music was incredible. I had no idea we had such talented people in the music ministry. There were definitely tears welling up in my eyes at several points throughout the evening. I truly felt Christ’s presence. It’s really hard to describe just how awesome it was. And by “awesome”, I mean that I was in awe. You will just have to go one day to experience it yourself!
I’m starting to learn little by little, that fear really is one of the biggest barriers in my life. I think this is the case for many of us. Attending the Easter Vigil was a reminder that I shouldn’t let fear or anxiety prevent me from doing something that is inherently good. The fear can melt away when I trust that Jesus will send down his Holy Spirt to grace me with the ability to happily struggle, if only I ask Him.
Have a Blessed Easter everyone!!