When I was growing up, we lived two doors from a church. We lived in its shadow, literally and figuratively. Holy Week was very solemn, focused on the sufferings of Christ. There was no running around or yelling or loud anything.
On Holy Thursday, we had a service and then the altar would be stripped bare. All linens, candles, any adornments of any kind were removed. And there was silence.
No bells were rung, nor music of any type played or sung.
No television or radio in our house.
On Good Friday morning,the church was open, and people would come to meditate on the passion of Christ and worship. We remembered Christ’s journey to the Cross later in the day.
The silence and the starkness are what I remember most. The church, dark, quiet, a tribute to the sufferings of Jesus, was such a change from bells ringing three or four times a day, people laughing and chatting after a service.
On those days, there was no talking, no laughter, only the sobering thought of Jesus dying on the cross.
On Saturday, still silent. Now in the church was a statue of Jesus in his death, arranged as if in a tomb filled with flowers, beneath the altar. The fragrance of hyacinths and lilies filled the air.
Then, Sunday morning, we woke up while it was still dark, got dressed in all our Easter finery- hats, gloves, patent leather shoes. My dad made each of us a corsage (it was the custom at the time). And we went to church for six o’clock Mass.
Nothing, oh nothing, can thrill my soul like what happened next. I would just be holding my breath in anticipation. The priest would intone the first line of this one Polish hymn….and all the church bells started ringing , the organ swelled and the choir & congregation burst into the rest of the song. The silence ended; music restored.
When I think of the Resurrection, I have to think that in heaven that day when Jesus arose from the grave, that bells were ringing, angels singing, in ways we can’t even imagine.
Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.
That is one of my favorite moments of Easters past. What memories of Easter do you cherish most?