Tuesday, April 14, 2020

O Truly Blessed Night

This is the night
that even now, throughout the world, 
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones...

It wasn't the night any of us had foreseen when Lent began. Dressed in our Easter finery, excitement building from the quiet expectation of Holy Saturday, we stood in front of the screen, watching. The priest onscreen stood in the cavernous space of the almost-empty church. By the flickering light of the Easter candle, he sang the Easter Proclamation.

This is the night, 
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld... 

Instead of solemnly standing in a packed church, our faces glowing by the light of the candles that the congregation held, we now stood by a couch, our gazes shifting from our spinning, scampering children to the livestream that played on the computer. In the early days of Lent, when I thought longingly of the Easter Vigil-my favorite liturgy of the entire year-this is not what I imagined. And yet--

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

As I heard these words intoned, my heart lifted. We weren't standing in a darkened church, holding up our children so they could see Father. We weren't going to experience the blessing of watching a couple dozen men and women receive the Sacraments for the first time. We weren't going to consume the Eucharist. We weren't going to stay out until midnight, munching on cookies and tea sandwiches in the parish hall as we continued to celebrate this great Feast with our parish family. However,

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

This was a blessed night. We were not packed in the pews that night, but we were still part of the Communion of Saints, united in Christ. As we continued to pray with the liturgy that evening, we heard Scripture reading after Scripture reading that walked through the powerful reality of God's redemption of mankind. From Genesis to Ezekiel, from Isaiah to Baruch, these words of Scripture reminded me that God is so much bigger than all of us and all of the problems the world is facing right now. The Resurrection of Christ from the dead changes everything. Christ calls us to eternal life with Him in Heaven, and we a cause for endless rejoicing. O blessed night, indeed!

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, by Raphael.
CCO public domain. 

This night was not what I would have designed, but it's what God gave us-and I am grateful. More than all the blessings of getting to prayerfully follow-along with the Vigil Mass, experiencing a break in the rain on Easter Sunday morning so we could walk as a family before diving into a pile of liege waffles, or connecting with relatives on a group video-call, the immense gift of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection shines bright. Christ is risen! Will we joyfully embrace this reality in our lives?
"God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear." (Acts 2:32-33)


  1. I thought it was very powerful to celebrate the Resurrection at home, viewing services livestreamed from the church office. It was a great opportunity to remind ourselves and teach our kids that the truths of Scripture (like the Resurrection) remain true even in difficult circumstances.

    1. Yes! Absolutely! I thought it was also interesting that, as a meme online (and the priest's homily at the Vigil, if I remember correctly) pointed out-this year was a very Biblical Easter in the sense that leading up to the very first Easter, the followers of Christ were huddled away in a room, feeling sad, not rejoicing and celebrating in a public area. It was something I hadn't thought of, and I appreciated that reminder a lot.