March 31, 2013

Paschal Prayers

Thanks to the change of clocks here in Europe, the period during which I had a chance to lie down last night, from 1 to 6 a.m., was only four hours. So when I got up I was even more intent than usual on getting some coffee. But I must not have been very awake when I was on my way to get it, because I had no response for the friar who gave me the classic paschal greeting: Christos anesti!

After getting over the characteristic shock of any pre-coffee fraternal encounter, I was amused, because I think the last time I myself gave the same greeting was at Captain Nemo's in Jamaica Plain, where the nice Greek pizza ladies--who work in front of a wall of icons--were at least surprised, if not perhaps edified and delighted. (I couldn't really tell.)

Last night was probably the most low-key Easter Vigil I've ever been to. There were about twenty friars, and there would have been even fewer had some, despite having tickets, not abandoned their attempt to get into St. Peter's. Despite a relaxed atmosphere, an Easter Vigil isn't an Easter Vigil without some confusion, and indeed there was some kind of disagreement around the liturgical seam between the prayer after the last Old Testament reading and the Epistle, namely surrounding the placement of the Gloria and the rubric for lighting the altar candles, which were found to be already lit. The friar who sang the Exsultet was also interesting. He started in Latin, but somewhere around the sursum corda he flipped some pages in the missal and continued in Italian. I thought to myself that perhaps he remembered along the way that due to recent events the imminent death of the 'reform of the reform' had been predicted and he had decided to read the signs of the times.

I was asked to do the reading from Exodus, which I was happy to do, though I think I added indignity to defeat for Pharoah's chariots and charioteers as I fumbled a couple of the repetitions of sui suoi. Sui suoi carri e sui suoi cavalieri. Nevertheless, I was grateful for a small part in the liturgy because it had been a long time since I had so little worry for the proper execution of the Vigil. The last two years I presided and the three years before that I was managing a group of servers. So I found that I could pray with a simplicity I haven't known at the Easter Vigil in some years. As I made my triple rinunzio and my triple credo at the renewal of promises, I began to find my prayer filled with lots of people, and I carried them in my intentions to the altar last night and then again this noon in the Mass of Easter Day.

I prayed for everyone who was baptized last night at Easter Vigils all over the world, in thanksgiving for their joy and their vocations, and for their hope and intentions as they woke up today as newborn Christians. I started to pray for everyone I myself had baptized as I realized that some of the babies I baptized as a new priest would be six and seven years old now. I prayed for their safety in this world and that they find their way to the joy God desires for them. I also prayed for the eternal rest of all their fellow babies who never had a chance to be baptized because they were denied their right to be born. When they come to wash our feet at the judgement either our hearts will melt with love or our souls will die of shame. I prayed for everyone renewing baptismal promises in churches everywhere, and asked if I could have just a little of their hope and devotion. I prayed for all the baptized who didn't know they were being prayed for in Easter Vigils everywhere, and especially for the forgiveness of any who had drifted away because of my sins and my shallowness, or because I had taken them lightly. May I be judged for any sins they fall into because of their distance from Christ's Church.

A special Easter greeting and prayers for new life in Christ for all who support me through the little mode of expression that this blog has become for me. Alithos Anesti!

1 comment:

Br. Matt; OFM Cap. said...

"I thought to myself that perhaps he remembered along the way that due to recent events the imminent death of the 'reform of the reform' had been predicted and he had decided to read the signs of the times."

I have to say, that line made me laugh.