Easter vigil: A call to sing praise and act faith.
As a child, I thought Easter meant candy and a new outfit; I thought about what I'd get for Easter. But as an adult, I look forward to what I will do at Easter. I no longer give up something for Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. I try to do something positive, like drive more politely or speak with kindness.
Easter Sunday, however, is not the spiritual highlight for me. It is the Triduum, the three days preceding Easter: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, or the Easter vigil.
As a member of the choir at St. Jude Catholic Church, this is the most meaningful part of the liturgical year for me. Music is important for my spirit. I enjoy singing at Mass all year, but the Triduum is special. The songs we sing are prayers. The melody alone isn't enough; it feels incomplete. The words are comforting, but it's the harmony that touches my heart and soul. It completes the prayer. The alto part alone sounds unfulfilled; the other parts complete the chord and raise my spirit.
On Holy Thursday we have the ceremony commemorating Christ's washing of the Apostles' feet at the Last Supper. One year I was honored to be one of those whose feet were washed by our pastor. I was very moved to have someone I respect and look up to, on his knees washing my feet.
The mood on Good Friday is somber. A member of the congregation is chosen to carry a wooden cross up and down the aisles as we sing, "Behold the wood of the cross, on which is hung our salvation, O come let us adore." Then the cross is placed upright in a stand in front of the altar.
We are all invited to come up and venerate the cross: bow, kneel, touch the cross or kiss it. We are singing, "We adore you, O Jesus Christ: for by your cross, you redeemed the world." It's chanted over and over again, like a meditation. Finally, the choir members walk up to venerate the cross and often remain after the rest of the congregation has left. We form a circle, holding hands, chanting and sometimes crying. We are so moved by the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem humankind from original sin.
Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil is the most exciting liturgy for me, because we are anticipating Christ's resurrection. We sing a line from Genesis: "Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth."
I believe the spirit of God works through environmental, spiritual and political leaders, activists and volunteers who are trying to "renew the face of the earth," in spite of man's abuse of God's gifts of creation.
This spirit moves me to live out my faith by working with interfaith activities. We had an interfaith Pentecost service several years ago. I hope that one year soon all the Christian churches can have a sunrise service where we can all sing out, "Roll away the stone, see the Glory of God."
Susannah Lustica attends St. Jude Catholic Church. This column is coordinated by Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, a network of faith communities in the Eugene-Springfield area. For more information, call 344-5693.