Saturday is traditionally devoted to honoring our Lady. And I learned that it's because she alone kept the faith when all seemed lost--God is dead. Even though our Lord had prepared His Apostles and told them He would rise from the dead, it is such an incredulous thing, they didn't actually believe. There's a beautiful essay on this--perfect for pondering salvation history with our Mother Mary.
Easter Vigil is so powerful--I'm surprised that more people don't attend because you get to experience the darkness until the Paschal candle is lit and from it, the candles of the Altar servers, who share it with us in the pews, until candlelight spreads throughout the church. I love the Exultet and all the readings and psalms and the renewal of our baptismal promises and celebrating those who are received into the Church and who finally get to make their first Holy Communion. Christ Jesus is our Passover Lamb, whose Precious Body and Blood washes us clean of sin and guilt, restores lost innocence, brings us peace and heavenly joy.
Twelve years ago, on our first anniversary of reception into the Church, Dagny and I were given the privilege of stripping the Altar after Maundy Thursday service. The Altar stone is Christ and I felt like one of the soldiers stripping our Lord. He'd been so horribly tortured during the scourging (Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ brought it to life in all its savage reality) that the garments adhered to His torn Flesh and in removing them roughly, some of His Skin came off. O Agony and Dying! O Love to sinners free! Jesus all grace supplying, O turn Thy Face on me...we sing in the Passion Chorale. Until I read ART+FAITH by Makoto Fujimura, I hadn't considered that the only earthly thing Christ took with Him to the Cross was the aromatic nard that Mary of Bethany had so lovingly poured over Him. I have always loved this story that we read Monday of Holy Week and written a reflection on it a few years ago, but every year, it continues to help me grow in love.
Today is Pope Benedict XVI's 95th birthday! I love this man for his clear teaching. It so happens, that he was born and baptized on Holy Saturday. May God bless him and keep him and shine His Face upon him.
I decided to try a bit of advertising in the Washington Review of Books, not that Ten Easter Eggs needs any help (it's sold over 100,000 copies) but my self-published titles do. Yes, I know--worldly aspirations. And so I pray: Lord Jesus, strip me of all things that do not belong to You. Make me love You above all things. Amen.
Pictures are from Max in DC; Palm Sunday at home; Dagny in Ave Maria.