Apr 14 2009

Wrapping Up Lent

Like I mentioned a week or so ago, there was a lot going on at St. Rose in the last few days of Lent, leading up to Easter.  I couldn’t make it to the Maundy Thursday Mass, unfortunately, but I was able to go to the Good Friday liturgy and Easter Vigil Saturday night.  Both were long, but definitely worth the effort.

There was quite a crowd for the Good Friday Office—maybe more people than I’ve seen in St. Rose since the first High Mass when it reopened last year.  I don’t know why; maybe other churches weren’t having anything that day so people came there, or maybe the afternoon scheduling made it extra handy.  Whatever the reason, there were plenty of people there to hear the Passion sung in Latin.  Fr. Bauer (who happens to be my late grandfather”s first cousin) sang the narrative, which is probably 90% of it.  I felt for him; standing and singing for that long, but he did a great job.  Fr. Schlangen and a deacon from the FSSP seminary (whose name I never caught, unfortunately) sung the other two parts.  I found it inspirational, but I hope the people who didn’t have missals were able to catch the spirit of it even though they couldn’t follow along with the translation.  Next year, we’ll know to expect a couple hundred people instead of a couple dozen.

The Easter Vigil started at 10pm Saturday and finished with Mass around midnight.  The crowd there wasn’t as large, but that is pretty late for a lot of people.  Fr. Schlangen and the deacon were there again to assist Fr. Devillers, and we started outside with the blessing of the new fire and then proceeded inside with our candles.  After several scripture readings and the blessing of things like holy water and oils, we came to the big reveal.  The lights came up, the altar (which had been bare to this point) was decorated, and all the statues were uncovered.  After two hours in the near-dark leading up to it, that really defined the moment, emphasizing that Christ has risen, Easter has begun.

When the lights first came on, something looked different in the sanctuary, and I couldn’t put my finger on it at first.  Then I realized there were two new statues, one on either side.  (Hey, it was three hours after my bedtime.)  Fr. D. announced that they were the statues of St. Rose and St. Patrick, the primary and secondary patron saints of St. Rose Church.  Apparently the statues had been kept in safe-keeping by Msgr. Kuse since St. Rose was closed.  It’s great to see those back up there; it did seem odd that there wasn’t a statue of the saint the church is named after.

I had a pretty good Lent, at least for me, compared to the last twenty or so years.  I only forgot not to eat meat one time.  I’m usually on auto-pilot in the morning, thinking about work or whatever while I go through the motions of making breakfast, so one Friday I’d cooked and eaten sausage and eggs before I realized what day it was.  Oops!  I guess that’s a good reason to start the day with morning prayers; it’d be hard not to notice the day that way.

Spiritually, though, I feel like I just skimmed the surface of what I could have gotten out of the whole season of Lent.  I learned a lot about it, from reading my missal and other sources, and actually paying attention and wanting to know.  But it seems to be hard to pray and learn about new things at the same time.  They’re both important and useful, but not at all the same thing.  I hope that next Lent, when I’ll be more familiar with the forms, I’ll be able to spend less time thinking, “What’s that mean?  Why’s he doing that?” and reach a deeper level of prayer more often during the season.

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