In the past, I've always dreaded going to mass during the Easter weekend. They're always extra long and I always wonder what I get out of it since I spend most of the time trying to keep little ones from misbehaving.
We have belonged to this Jesuit parish for the past 20 years and I have to say that when we first arrived (in 1988) and started going here, they were snobby, condescending, stuffy and dusty. Slow and sustained organ music, high pitched old lady voices singing and narcissistic priests. It was so horrible that we eventually drove further away to attend mass at a different parish.
Since my return to Brisbane, we've been going to our 'home' parish again. It was unexpected but they have changed. And this year's Easter masses were surprisingly meaningful for us.
On Good Friday, Aaron and I sat in the front of the church so he could get a better view. This year, they had a group of men drag a heavy wooden cross down the center aisle. Later on in the mass, that same cross was passed through the congregation, over our heads. Each person passed it on and was only in contact with it for several seconds but its weight was immediately apparent. This particular mass was not monotonous in the first place but that bit of hands on participation added to the realism of the points that are repeated at each Good Friday mass - pain, suffering, desperation etc. I expected a long homily but instead, the priest spoke very briefly about the part of the Passion of Christ which was most meaningful to him and then asked the congregation to share their views.
That wasn't the only time the priest asked for congregation participation either. It happened again today at the Easter Mass. You'd think that the priest was some young fellow fresh out of the seminary with radical new ideas, but he isn't. He's over 80 years old! This is the priest that also invites all the children up to the alter with him during the Eucharistic Prayers.
Amongst many other things, Easter is about new beginnings. And, this Easter must have worked some sort of magic on me because I'm feeling a sort of motivation to teach Aaron and Adrian about the religion. And I feel supported by the parish that they can grow up with this religion without it having to be snobby, condescending, stuffy and dusty.
Happy Easter everyone!