What joy the blest assurance gives,
I know that my redeemer lives!
We had a beautiful Holy Week as a family this year, starting with our participation in the Palm Sunday procession for the first time at St. Joseph's! This year the kids showed a very strong desire to join in, and while processing down the center aisle is neither Paul's nor my preferred way of entering the church, we took one for the team and let the kids wave their palms to their heart's content, along with about half of the congregation. And it really was beautiful! Besides having to constantly remind the kids to keep their palms out of the hair of the people in front of us, Mass went surprisingly smoothly. After Mass, we had the cousins over for brunch, and the kids had a grand old time together!
Monday was a day filled with joy! On Sunday evening, Max and I had sat together in our room and gone through an examination of conscience in preparation for his first Reconciliation Monday evening. It is so beautiful seeing our Catholic faith through the eyes of a child. He felt nothing but joy at the prospect of going to confession. He felt sorrow for his sins, yes, but he was simply bubbling with excitement when the time came near to head to church! The Good Shepherd program, through which we're doing our sacrament prep, sets up a mini-retreat for parents and their kids to walk through individually before getting in line. We lit candles, read about baptism and our white garment, prayed with scripture, and discussed the important moment to come. Then we joined the line and waited, Max with a big grin... and me quietly shivering with nerves for him. I don't know why I was nervous, he sure wasn't! He entered the confessional and I waited for a few minutes. Then the door burst open and he practically skipped out of the room! He ran up to me and said, "Mom! I feel like I could FLY!" I am lucky I was able to hold it together and not turn instantly into a blubbering mess. He went to the adoration chapel to pray while I confessed, and then we walked together back to the great room. He was invited to light a candle with his name on it in gold wax, while I prayed over him. Then we floated home to tell Dad and his siblings all about the experience. "Dad, do you feel like you could fly? Mom, do you feel like you could fly? How long am I going to feel like I could fly??" It was a good day.
On Wednesday, Edith and I visited the doctor for her well-child and my 16-week appointment. I got to hear a healthy heartbeat while Edith sat quietly in a chair glaring at my doctor. In the late afternoon I taught Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, presenting the work of the Last Supper. It was such a beautiful experience to proclaim the story to the children the day before Holy Thursday. Every week I feel the Holy Spirit working in that space, and that day was no exception!
If preparing for Holy Thursday was spirit-filled and prayerful, the actual celebration of Holy Thursday was anything but. A 7pm Mass with our children is an invitation to terrible behavior. Paul and I took turns with Edith in the back of the church, while the three kids were antsy and squirmy in the pews for the whole nearly two hours. I have come to expect that this it the most difficult Mass of the year, and yet we continue to go.... I keep praying that some year it will get easier! It is one of my favorite liturgies; someday I will actually get to pray.
On Good Friday we attended Living Stations of the Cross at another parish. A close friend of mine sang, and the presentation was beautifully moving. I found myself staring at the ceiling for most of the hour to keep the tears from pouring down. The kids were engaged and extremely well behaved. Thank you, God for that blessing!
Holy Saturday was a quiet day at home, preparing and waiting, baking bread, transforming our crown and changing our prayer table. The kids had some trouble settling down for the evening, but once they were quiet we set up their Easter baskets for them to find in the morning. Then we crashed after a long, but wonderful, week of preparation.
At 7:00 in the morning, Paul and I got ourselves up and began to prepare for Mass. Edith woke up a few minutes later, and we sent her in to wake up the other kids. She attacked their beds as we yelled "Alleluia!" It didn't take long for all of them to be up and bouncing on their beds. They ran downstairs and discovered their Easter baskets. After perusing the goodies, they had some breakfast and got ready for Mass. My parents met us at 9:00 Mass, and I am so thankful to them! I got to pray more at Easter Mass than I have in about as long as I can remember... because they graciously allowed all four kids to pile on and around them for the whole time.
After Mass, we went back to our house for an Easter Egg hunt and a small brunch, my mom gave the kids a photo book of pictures from our Florida trip, and we took a few family pictures. Then we packed it up and drove to my grandparents' condo for the Easter Feast! It was such a laid-back, fun day with family. We ate and played some games, the kids got to hunt for some surprises and eat WAY too much candy. Edith took a power nap, thanks to my dad's persistence in walking her until she fell asleep. I actually had to wake her up after 5pm, to make sure she would actually go to bed that night!
We didn't head home until nearly bedtime, and once home we lit a whole row of candles (why have just one? It's Easter!) and sang our Easter hymn! After 40 days of O Sacred Head Surrounded, it was a joy and relief to finally sing "He lives, He lives, who once was dead. He lives, my everlasting Head!"