He Is Risen! (thoughts on the Vigil and other things)

A very happy Easter to everyone, and a joyful "WELCOME HOME!" to the thousands who entered the fullness of the Christian faith last night at the Easter V.I.G.I.L. Mass!*

(*As anyone who has brought small children to this Mass can attest, V.I.G.I.L. stands for Very Incredibly Gigantically Interminably Long.)

As RCIA coordinator at my parish, last night I had the profound honor of seeing ten people I've taught, talked with and prayed these past six months find their home in the Holy Catholic Church. I met their families, heard more about their individual stories, learned the names they had chosen for their Confirmation, and watched with joy as one by one they proclaimed their faith and received our Lord in the Eucharist for the very first time.

My eyes welled up with tears as I watched our two catechumens receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Two lifetimes of sin, washed away in a moment. Two brand new starts, this time with sacramental grace to guide them. Maybe it's the former protestant in me, but I get much more emotional watching adults choose baptism than I do watching infants be baptized. The baptism of an infant is a pure, happy, and beautiful moment, to be sure, but the shock factor of an adult raised in our anti-Christian, shallow, hedonistic culture choosing to follow Christ, and all that entails, is a powerful reminder that the Holy Spirit is still actively at work in the world. What other explanation could there be for such a thing?

I may have teared up a bit at the baptisms, but I lost all pretense of keeping it together when the catechumens and candidates received Holy Communion. I was overwhelmed with the memory of the experience I had when I took my first Communion two years ago and crumbled into a full-on lip trembling, teary, mascara-smeared mess. I hope the experience of receiving Jesus -- body, blood, soul and divinity -- for the very first time was every bit as thrilling for my friends as it was for me, and then some.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have my favorites in the class, just by virtue of their backstories and varying participation levels. Despite the fact I've known them all the same amount of time, some have been more active in class, so I feel I know them better. One of my favorites, whom I feel okay about outing here because he already outed himself, is John C. Wright, science fiction author, lawyer and ex-atheist Christian apologist extraordinaire. He joined late in the year, and the level of discourse in the class escalated rapidly after that -- rather unsurprisingly for anyone who has read his blog, he had a lot of thought-provoking questions and commentary. I am honored and grateful to have been used by God in even the smallest way to assist this man on his journey into the fullness of faith. I'm excited to see the ways big and small in which God will use his servant John. If you're reading this, John: Congratulations and welcome home.

All in all, it was an incredible night. My biggest regret is that I didn't make the most of Lent this year -- I know the experience could have been even richer if I had sacrificed more and focused harder on having a spiritually productive Lent. As it was, I didn't really buckle down and do more than the minimum required by the Church until Holy Week. I have another post's worth to say about that, but for now, it's off to spend time with my family and enjoy this, the greatest feast of the Christian year.

He is risen, indeed!

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