Monday, April 17, 2017

After Easter Sunday

Today, Easter Monday, I’m trying to recoup my energies after a good, but busy, Paschal Triduum – Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.

Saturday we started the Easter Vigil at 5:30 pm about three blocks from the church. Padre German had asked me to give a short reflection on the theme inscribed on the Paschal Candle. Then we lit the Paschal Candle from the New Fire.

After we walked to the church we gathered outside in the park. I began by singing the Exultet, the Easter Proclamation. I didn’t do too badly, but I don’t think too many noticed it my errors. Then we had all the readings with sung psalm responses.

After the homily we had the baptisms of about forty, mostly young, people. It was a bit of a mob scene since they were baptized in the midst of the crowd (to avoid water flowing on the wires of the sound system). I had the job of transporting water from the font to the place of baptism.

What impressed me was the large number of young men – from sixteen to the early twenties – who were baptized. I had met a number of them, mostly when I went for the Scrutinies in three villages during Lent. I felt very hopeful seeing so many young men.

The Vigil ended about 10:30 pm, followed with tamales for everyone. 

I got home way after 11 pm and didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. Then up about 5 (to bak bread to take with me to lunch in the afternoon.)

Sunday morning I went to Debajiados, a poor remote village, for a 9 am Celebration of the Word with Communion. I have a deep place in my heart for this village. It was a most appropriate place to celebrate Easter.

Until about seven years ago they had no pastoral presence. Suddenly one woman was experienced what she described as visits of the Virgin Mary with requests for people to come together and pray. Padre Efraín, the pastor at that time, sent me to talk with the woman. I found her a very simple, honest woman, without pretensions; though some aspects of what she told me seemed a bit odd, I could not deny her experience. Whether it was an apparition of Mary or a projection of this woman's desire for a presence of the church in the village is beyond me. But the results tell a story of grace.

Soon after we began to visit the village regularly, the visits of the Virgin stopped. Since then the life of faith has grown. They have several catechists and regular Sunday Celebrations of the Word led by a local Delegate of the Word. The life of faith has experienced a resurrection there. It was a great place to celebrate the Risen Lord. 

I’ve gone there for Good Friday twice before and I was there for a Mass on their feast day, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, last July – the day after my ordination as a permanent deacon.

While there in July I and a visitor, Phil, went with Juan Ángel, a thirty-one-year old catechist, and his oldest son, Ever, to bring communion to his parents who lived quite a distance away from the church. It was a great way to celebrate being a deacon.

Juan Ángel, who was also preparing to become an extraordinary minister of Communion, died of pneumonia in September. The community came together to help the widow and her four children, including arranging to get them rights to the land where their house was.

In my homily on Easter, I spoke of the mystery of Easter, where the apparent failure of Good Friday is transformed into the victory of love of the risen Jesus.

I mentioned several ways how, in the midst of pain and suffering, we can find the victory of love of the Risen Jesus. I started to mention Juan Ángel and I filled up with tears and couldn’t speak. I finally was able to say, in the presence of his widow and children, how even though he has died his life is bearing fruit in the community.

After the Celebration, I stood around for a few minutes as several musicians sang two songs of the resurrection in a very popular, traditional style. You can find one of them here on You Tube

Then I visited and brought communion to a lucid, but weak, ninety-five-year old man.

Then I was off to Gracias, Lempira, to have lunch with the Dubuque Franciscan sisters. I arrived late, as they were finishing dessert – with the local pastor and a neighbor. What a way to refresh my body (with great food) and my spirit (with great conversation.)

I got home about 6:30 pm – tired from too little sleep and lots of driving in the past week. A little to eat, prayer, a glass of wine, and bed.

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