Sunday, April 12, 2009

alleluia time

This year's Lenten season was especially meaningful to me. In January, I was asked by a friend to be his sponsor in the RCIA program at Sacred Heart Cathedral. As a child he had been baptized into a Protestant denomination. The Catholic Church recognizes that as a valid Christian baptism. After completing the necessary classes, he was ready to be received into the Church and to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.

Even though my wife was singing at All Saints on Thursday and Friday, I chose to attend all three parts of the Triduum at Sacred Heart. Bishop Richard F. Stika was the main celebrant each night. My wife joined me at the Cathedral on Saturday evening. She even walked through the rehearsal as my proxy on Saturday morning because I had to work.

The Easter Vigil starts outside the church with the blessing of the new fire and the lighting of the paschal candle. Bishop Stika and the other priests and deacons waited under the dogwoods by the rectory while Fr. Al Humbrecht lit the fire. Unfortunately it didn't take right away. One of the parishioners stuffed a couple of newspaper pages into the woodpile and the second attempt worked fine.

One eager sponsor, who reminded me of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean character, tried to light his handheld candle from the bonfire. He was told to stop. The Bishop used a brass candle lighter to transfer a flame from the fire to the paschal candle. Once the candle was carried into the cathedral, the flame was passed to each of us.

The bilingual service reminded me of trilingual masses I would attend at St. Finbar Church. As I stood with my hand on my friend's shoulder and the Bishop anointed him with chrism, I was also reminded of the two times I served as an RCIA sponsor in Burbank. The Easter Vigil usually runs about three hours. We had already passed the three-and-a-half-hour mark when I thought that the Bishop saw me check my watch. I must not have been the only one. As he ended the Mass, Bishop Stika said that he had seen people checking their watches to see not what time it was but what day it was.

Afterwards they had cake! I gave myself a little bit of a sugar buzz from the icing, which made me feel like I needed some protein. We took my friend and his wife out to IHOP at midnight for a very early Easter breakfast. My wife and I almost ordered omelettes until we remembered that we have 16 hard boiled Easter eggs waiting for us at home. I'll show you some of those tomorrow.

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