It was on an Easter Sunday, and all in the morning,
Our Savior arose, and our heavenly King.
The sun and the moon, they both did rise with him,
And sweet Jesus we’ll call him by name.
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Ye humble souls that seek the Lord,
Chase all your fears away;
And bow with rapture down to see
The place where Jesus lay.
I awoke early this morning, around 7:30. The History Channel was showing a documentary on the practice of crucifixion in ancient times, a preview of which is shown in this clip produced by one of the actors in the piece. (CONTENT WARNING: Violent scenes and graphic images.) You always think you know how gruesome it was until you watch something like this. It was hard enough watching scenes from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and even that was a mild representation. Imagine a system of belief rising up against the face of terror. It is one that has shaped the fate of the world for two millennia, and has yet to be defeated.
Thus low the Lord of Life was brought,
Such wonders love can do;
Thus cold in death that bosom lay,
Which throbbed and bled for you.
This year, the Paschal Triduum went on as usual. As it is a celebration of the entire parish, the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is used -- the "Novus Ordo Missae" -- albeit in Latin and English, with the altar "ad orientem" (facing east, or as it is incorrectly termed, with "the priest's back to the people"). I was an advisor during the rehearsals, but during the Mass was transitioned from the usual Master of Ceremonies role to being a "Privy Chaplain." In more solemn celebrations of the Mass, with multiple high churchmen in attendance, one or two minor clerics would be on hand for each prelate to attend to his needs, especially in light of either their rank, or their degree of infirmity. So I didn't do much, and I still got a good seat with the "clerics in choir." The music, the chant, the saga of passion, death, and resurrection -- it was awesome.
But raise your eyes and tune your songs;
The Saviour lives again:
Not all the bolts and bars of death
The Conqueror could detain.
One factor in all this, was a young seminarian from the parish, soon to be ordained to the diaconate, whose presence warranted a leadership role. He's been with us for the last few years at this time, and while I am no substitute as a mentor for a parish priest, I do have the opportunity to help familiarize them with the various liturgical books and ceremonial details. I rather enjoy that part of the job, and one after the other will come and go, and be the next generation of priests. It's like being an assistant to the steward of the vineyard, and enjoying the bearing of fruit just the same.
High o'er the angelic bands He rears
His once dishonoured head;
And through unnumbered years He reigns,
Who dwelt among the dead.
With Sal out of the country, the rest of the day was rather quiet. Even the local Target superstore was closed on Easter Sunday! And here I thought the forces of secularism had won. But I went to the local family restaurant in McLean for a brunch of steak and eggs, topped off by a Bloody Mary. Well, actually, TWO Bloody Marys. Back in Ohio, a few of the clan gathers at Mom and Dad's for at least part of the day. I have no family here, of course, only the benefit of a phone line. But after twenty years of this life, you get used to the idea. At least it's not very high maintenance. But things will pick up fairly quickly in May. I'll be MC'ing both a priest's anniversary Mass, and a wedding. Each has a story of its own, and hopefully they'll find a place here.
With joy like his shall every saint
His vacant tomb survey;
Then rise with his ascending Lord
To realms of endless day.
I also get photos from the Philippines via Facebook, of someone obviously very much in her element. We talk via Skype about every other day. Manila is just twelve hours ahead of the eastern USA, so it's easy to figure out the best time to connect. Still, it's not the same, and she never calls when she's supposed to. I could just be sitting here minding my own business, when ...
Philip Doddridge (1702-1751)