Last year we came home from Mass on Easter Sunday feeling rather upset and unsettled.
When we arrived at the church we found that our usual early morning Sunday congregation had doubled in size. We didn’t mind sitting shoulder to shoulder: it was good to see so many people at Mass on the most important day of the year.
The problem arrived at communion time. Because the congregation was so large, Father took the chalice and headed towards the back of the church, leaving the extraordinary minister to give communion to the front half of the church, including us. Everything was still fine. The parishioners in front of us processed up the aisle, to receive Our Lord. Then it was Sophie’s turn. The extraordinary minister fumbled and dropped the host: Our Lord lay on the carpet. The minister fumbled a second time but my daughter just managed to prevent the host slipping from her tongue. I was so afraid Our Lord would end up on the floor again that I bent down and whispered in Charlotte’s ear: “Put out your hands.” She looked confused as she’d never received communion in the hand before but she did what I said. But I could tell she didn’t feel comfortable. Nor did I. It had been many years since I last held Our Lord in my hands. It didn’t feel right.
When I resumed my place on the kneeler next to Gemma-Rose, I realised my youngest daughter was in tears. “What’s the matter?” I whispered.
“I didn’t get a blessing from Father,” she cried.
Now I know a priest is not obliged to give blessings during Mass but Father S is quite happy to bless anyone that cannot receive Holy Communion for whatever reason. Gemma-Rose had expected to receive a special Easter blessing and was disappointed she had to remain in the pew while we all went up to receive Our Lord. There was no way she could push her way through the parishioners to the back of the church in order to get her usual blessing from the priest.
My tears mingled with Gemma-Rose’s. Nothing felt right and all our expectations of Easter Sunday Mass had dissolved away. We returned home feeling rather let down.
It would have been so easy to let things slip from bad to worse. It could have ended up being a rather dismal Easter Sunday. How were we to save the day?
After breakfast we did what we do every Easter Sunday. We all gathered in the lounge room with our hymn books and we sang By Your Kingly Power, O Risen Lord. And suddenly all the upset feelings disappeared. Our family was gathered together, we were singing our favourite hymn, Jesus had risen and the Easter season of rejoicing stretched ahead of us. It didn’t really matter about our feelings at Mass that morning.
When I was a very new Catholic, I had this idea that I should feel something extraordinary whenever I received Our Lord. I waited week after week to feel the magic, and week after week I was disappointed. I wondered if in fact the problem lay in holiness. Perhaps I just wasn’t worthy enough to feel the special presence of Our Lord. Since that time I have come to believe that feelings have very little to do with anything. Yes, sometimes I am overwhelmed with joy at Mass and other times I feel rather ordinary. The feeling is not important. It’s the ability to say, “Lord I believe!” regardless of any sensation that is of value.
We all work so hard during Lent, and at last Easter Sunday is here and we can’t wait to celebrate the rising of Our Lord. We want to come home feeling so joyful and happy but sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way we expect.
Except for this Easter.
We went to the Vigil on Saturday evening. The usual Easter Vigil rain didn’t appear, so for once Father was able to light the fire in the brazier in the church grounds. The Pascal candle was lit and with thoughts of the Light coming into the World, we all processed into the dark church.
We didn’t lose anyone in the dark and we found a pew where we could all sit together.
We didn’t hear those ominous words from the people sitting behind us: “I can smell burning hair”: Gemma-Rose’s blonde locks didn’t need rescuing from the candle flame.
All our choir members sang beautifully despite the fact they had to read their music by the light of their mobile phones for the first part of Mass.
No one fidgeted or fell asleep. Everyone sat captivated.
Charlotte and Sophie had the honour of taking the gifts up at the time of the offertory.
We all received Holy Communion from Father S including Gemma-Rose, who no longer needs a blessing.
We all knelt in thanksgiving and yes, we felt joy. We certainly didn’t feel ordinary about the Extraordinary.
Thank you, Lord for this extra blessing.
Happy Easter!
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  1. So beautiful and true. Have to say, I am so sad that at our Easter Vigil this year the lights were left on through the entire Mass! I've never been at an Easter Vigil where that is the case...talk about adjusting expectations and dealing with disappointment (my own, and my kids!)

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  2. I hope you are feeling the joy of Easter despite your disappointment, Leslie. It is so good to share thoughts with you. God bless

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  3. I can relate to this personal story. Thank you for sharing it! I'm glad that this Easter was better!

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  4. Thank you danardoyle for visiting my blog and sharing my stories. I read your post about everyone kneeling for communion and receiving on the tongue at the Easter Sunday Mass with Pope Benedict. So encouraging!

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