We are moving into Holy Week and life is going to get hectic around here. There is Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and I am serving as an acolyte in three of those four services at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood. Not to mention that the Great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening will span at least 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Despite the length, this is my favorite Mass of the year because it starts out in darkness with everyone holding candles and then after many readings, much singing, loads of incense and then riotous bell ringing, the candles are extinguished and the lights slowly come on all over the church. It is exquisitely beautiful, but not for those who are attending church primarily to please their mother. The Easter Sunday 10:30 Mass is better for that group of individuals.
On that note, I am happy to report that two of my beloved daughters will be coming with their boyfriends to the 10:30 Mass on Easter Sunday. (Sarah will have worked all Saturday night at the hospital so she, Gregorio and Nico will not be attending.) However, granddaughter Luna will be spending Saturday night with Grandma and Grandpa so she can go to the church Easter egg hunt Sunday morning and then sit with Grandpa and the rest of the family during Mass. I am serving as sub-deacon up at the altar so I’ll get a good view of my beautiful family out in the congregation. (This makes me exceedingly happy, by the way.) Grandpa is already planning to take crayons and paper for Luna’s amusement and has graciously offered to go outside and sit with her just in case she gets restless. (Such a saint, my husband.)
The upcoming week is the most sacred in the Christian church’s calendar and is filled with particular meaning for me. I am always deeply touched by the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. The world then is no different from the world today – a deeply fractured place where “the other” is often humiliated, ridiculed and killed. Being reminded that love, service, and tolerance are the right ways to live could not be more relevant. I am happy to have a vivid example of how love and compassion can triumph over hatred and ill-will. All religions teach these truths. Holy Week is when the Christian faith demonstrates these tenets in the embodiment of Jesus Christ. This is a gift to those of us of this faith – it offers solace for all the suffering in our world; it lightens the darkness.
That is why I love the Great Easter Vigil. Darkness is overcome by light. I suspect the symbolism is intentional.
For those of you who live in Los Angeles and are interested in attending Holy Week services, St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood offers a truly Anglican, high church experience. This means there are copious amounts of incense, beautiful music and high church ritual, which can also be described as having “all the bells and smells.” Here is the link to the church’s website with the days and times if you are interested: http://www.saintthomashollywood.org/html/