Entering Holy Week

I was all geared up to attend the Easter Vigil Mass this coming Saturday.

Then my pastor last night mentioned that there would be forty baptisms.

WOW!

But, no thanks.  I just don’t have the energy for that this year.

*******

Last night, I took the 5 youngest kids {five youngest kids: that phrase makes me laugh at the me of 10 years ago who could barely handle 3 little children}…I took the 5 youngest children to the 4 pm vigil Mass.  We arrived about a minute before show time, later than I hoped, and the church was pretty full.  I pushed my way toward the front, even though it would mean we would not have an aisle seat, a risky move when one has an infant.

Side note: why, oh why, does everybody come in and sit on the aisle?  I guess it’s ok if the church isn’t typically full.  But our Masses are all very full.  If you sit on the aisle, people will have to ask you to move, either to the middle or out of their way as they climb over you.  I usually sit in the middle when entering an empty pew.  Unless I have George.  Or unless I’m with my entire family.  We take up the whole row.

I ended up squeezing 6 of us into 4 seats – our church has individual chairs because we are saving to build a real church.  Fortunately, the seats are connected, and George doesn’t need a seat, so it was crowded, but fine.  We were in the middle of elderly couples, all of whom had secured the aisle seats.  I felt a chill in the air, as though I were an interloper sitting in reserved seats.  It was bad enough that I had sat among them, but I had children, too.  Horrors.

Fortunately, God was smiling on me and George fell asleep without much ado.  He stayed sleeping even through being buckled into his seat and driving home.  After Mass, one smiling woman felt moved to tell me how wonderfully my family had behaved.  I hope the other couples felt the same way.  It’d be nice to think we’re spreading a bit of joy to others.

Note to self: do not be a grumpy old person.

*******

Speaking of spreading joy, I was at stations of the cross two Friday evenings ago, and had to relocate to the rear of the church with a fussy baby.  A woman entered a bit late and sat right next to me as I was nursing him, even though there were plenty of empty seats a bit farther on.  Later I realized she was waiting for someone.  After George was done, I allowed him to crawl around as we alternated between standing and kneeling.  At one point, while kneeling, George crawled over to her, climbed up on her and allowed her to hold him while he smiled and laughed.  It is not at all like him to be that way with strangers, but I think he was fascinated by her glasses which were so much like mine.  It was only for a minute or two, but I could tell she was absolutely delighted.  She seemed about ten years older than I, so likely there are few infants in her daily life.  I was happy to share mine with her, even briefly.

*******

Since the new year, I’ve been participating in The Year of Faith 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge which takes you through 14 narrative books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, and Acts.  I had already read all but Ezra, Nehemiah and 1 Maccabees, but I had not read them straight through in such a condensed time period.  Most days, there were 4 or 5 chapters to read, which took about 15 minutes, sometimes a bit more.  It’s been great.  One new year’s resolution this year was for me to read the whole Bible.  13 down, 60 books to go.

I’ve been using the USCCB’s online Bible for my reading.  (This was fine until my kindle died.)  I have also been reading over the footnotes, which I find very helpful.  I don’t go to all the cross references, but the remarks on the historical/social aspects of the various stories help put things in context.  For example, the many times that Luke portrays Christ’s treatment of women or non-Jews with respect outside the norm is highlighted and is something that a modern reader like myself might not notice – so what? that Martha’s sister Mary sat at His feet, except that was a big deal, apparently.  Also, noted was that big portions of 1 Maccabees are given to lauding the Romans who offered protection to the small kingdom of Judah in that 1st century BC, but since it was the Romans who destroyed the Temple and sought to obliterate Judaism as well in the 1st century AD, the Jews of that era struck Maccabees from their scriptures.

Politics.

*******

And a great quote for the beginning of Holy Week, especially if you’ve been thinking you did a great job with your Lenten resoutions:

So should it be with you.  When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do.”  Luke 17:10

As my husband always says: nobody gets an award for just doing his job.  Keeping the commandments, loving our neighbor, imitating Christ.  It’s our job.

*******

Have a fruitful, blessed and fulfilling Holy Week.

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12 thoughts on “Entering Holy Week

  1. I am so glad that Mass went so smoothly for you. Our family does not do well with vigil Mass and I am so glad, after the chaos that was Confession with the whole family yesterday, that we were able to wait until this morning and attend our regular Mass.

    Prayers for a blessed Holy Week!

  2. Vigil Masses are tough for little ones, especially if they are at 5 or 530 pm. Most days, that would be the “witching hour” – the time just before dinner when everybody is at their crankiest. This Mass, though, is at 4 pm, and that is much better for the little ones. George is usually a fusspot no matter what time, though, so making it through Mass without having to remove him even once is definitely a rare blessing. Stina, I PROMISE, it won't always be so stressful. One day, there won't be anyone between the ages of 1 and 4, and you will realize you have forgotten how to breathe deeply and relax.

  3. “5 youngest”!! Love it!! My youngest asked me the other day if we knew any families who had “only” 4 kids. Hah! We now regularly go to the Vigil Mass and it's a revelation. My youngest is 8 and I'm only just there this year, where everyone can make it to the later dinner time and no one has a melt down or falls asleep in Mass. Just. Happy Holy Week and Happy Easter, my friend!!

  4. One year there was about 80 Baptism's at St. Stephen!

  5. Late-afternoon Masses are definitely tough on kids. We love the Sunday noon Mass for that reason. It's a pretty good time of day and the families of the parish have pretty much adopted it as their Mass of choice.

  6. I've never heard of a vigil Mass on Palm Sunday…Easter Vigil Mass Yes, but what sort of vigil was this? I'd love to have our baby baptized at the Easter Vigil, but our Parish insist on Baptisms after 12:30 Mass.

    My favorite is the person who takes up a lot of space for all their stuff…spreading glasses, books, whatever all about like they're saving a seat for someone, so we squeeze in somewhere else only to see that nobody else ever showed up. But I've also seen folks give up space and seats to accomidate families too. I'll have much to pay forward when my kids are grown…hopefully I'll remember that when I'm old.

  7. Kris, Mary did fall asleep during the final announcements. Peter was 6 before he stopped falling asleep during Sunday Mass.

    Sharon – amazing, and wonderful…but that had to be a long Mass.

    Barb, we often go to the 1130 am, but I always feel like there's nothing left in my Sunday. I wish we could get out the door for the 8 am, but that's not happening.

    Susanna, the “vigil mass” is simply any mass the evening before…so all Saturday afternoon/evening masses are vigil masses. Some churches will do a vigil mass the evening before a holy day of obligation. Most of the time, the vigil mass readings are the same as the Sunday readings. Some special occasions, including Christmas and Easter, have special vigil mass readings. The mass I attended Saturday afternoon just had the normal Palm Sunday readings.

  8. oh, and yes, people who need a chair for their stuff annoy me too.

  9. Have a good Holy Week Michelle! Love the quote. 🙂

  10. I'm so glad you and the children had a nice experience at Mass even if you were crowded. I know it's hard on the children around older people and I know some seniors are better than others dealing with itchy kids at Mass.
    I went to our vigil Mass at 7 PM and returned home at 10 PM, so I'm sure you made a wise decision to opt for the earlier Mass.
    This is the first year that our diabetic Pastor was able to do every single reading and choir responding etc. We had no baptisms or confirmations either this year and it took 2 1/2 hours. I really forgot just how long it can be. Unfortunately, this Mass did not have enough people to fill the church but for those of us who did attend it was beautiful — from the fire outside to the procession into the darkened church, the music, the readings, renewal of baptism, blessing the holy water etc etc.
    I also attended the sunrise Mass at 7 am on the lawn of the church that faces the ocean. I think the entire barrier Island attended this Mass! It was a sight to see.
    It is an overwhelming experience as Father ties in the Resurrection of Jesus with the Rising Sun in his sermon and to have the body of Christ raised as the rising sun was right on the elevated body of Christ.
    This Mass is the favorite of families and visiting relatives and they bring blankets and chairs and Father always manages to do this Mass in an hour and 15 minutes.
    I really do love the end of Lent!
    May God continue to Bless you and your family.

  11. Hi,

    I love your blog! Don't know if you will see this so late, but there are children (like mine) who need an aisle seat for anxiety reasons. My son was moved in once and it was a disaster. He had one panic attack after another and finally had to go outside. I know adults that also have that issue….

  12. Hi, Anon – I also too take an aisle seat to make a hasty retreat if my infant gets noisy. I know there are many good reasons to sit on the aisle. But nearly EVERYBODY comes in and takes an aisle seat. Maybe the church just needs to do shorter rows!

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