April 28, 2017

Reflection / Melinda Fish

Grandkids’ insight offers unique perspective of Easter triduum

Melinda FishIt was 9:00 Saturday evening, April 15, the time for the Easter Vigil. We weren’t at Mass, but rather cruising along a dark and winding country road.

The sky was black, except for the twinkling of the bright stars. My daughter was driving, and I was riding shotgun. Tucked in the back were my husband, my son-in-law and three of my grandchildren.

We had taken a pitch-in supper to the Hickory Creek Horsemen Camp down by Norman, Indiana, to share with my niece and her husband, who were visiting from Michigan. It was the only time we could all get together. One of my sisters and her family were also there.

The adults had hiked in the mild spring weather along a wooded path, trimmed in redbuds and dogwoods. The children had taken turns riding the compliant horses round and round a small trail by the camp. All partook of food made from tried and true family recipes, and there were lots of conversations, catching up and sharing family stories new and old. Now, cocooned in the van, we were all tired and content.

I was feeling a little Catholic guilt about missing the Easter Vigil, but I cherished being with my niece whom I only saw once yearly at the camp. This year, it happened to fall on Easter weekend. I chose to be with her.

Anyway, my husband and I were singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” with the St. Charles Borromeo choir for Easter Sunday Mass, so that had to count for something.

Also, being with Mary, my niece, reminded me of her mother, my dear sister who had passed away. And it also reminded me of those family reunions of long ago—the chatter and laughter of numerous aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. I could sense the presence of those long gone relatives. A communion of saints. I was in one of those sentimental and spiritual moods.

All three of the grandchildren attend St. Charles Borromeo School in Bloomington. Public school would be more convenient and lots less expensive, but we are all committed to a Catholic education for the children.

The silence was broken.

Cora, a first-grader: I’ll tell you how it really happened. This is the truth, guys. Jesus came to town with his friends and had a nice supper for everyone. But one friend wanted money. So he told the priests where Jesus was.

Christian, a third-grader: Cora, his friends are disciples and Judas betrayed Jesus.

Cora: Yes, Judas wanted money. How much money did he get?

Christian: Thirty pieces of silver.

Cora: So he took the police to the garden, and they arrested Jesus and took him to jail.

Christian: Wait, Cora, you forgot a really important part. The disciple took out a knife and sliced the man’s ear off. He wasn’t a policeman. What was he, Grandma?

Grandma: A guard or soldier or maybe a centurion.

Christian: Yes. Anyway, Jesus said don’t do that and he picked up the ear and stuck it back on his head and it stayed there, all healed.

Cora: Wow, I didn’t know that. Anyway, they pushed thorns in Jesus’ head and made him carry the cross and nailed him to it, and he said “I forgive everybody everything,” and he died. It was so sad. Did you know that Judas killed himself? He was so sad. But then Jesus rose up again.

Christian: First, the curtain in the holy place ripped from top to bottom. Then he was gone for three days.

Grandma: Where did he go?

Christian: He went to hell and saw all the dead people, and he told them he would open heaven.

Ruby, a preschooler: Listen, this is how it really is, guys. Jesus was dead. Say it. Say it! Jesus was dead.

All: Jesus was dead.

Ruby: Jesus was dead: Say it.

All: Jesus was dead.

Ruby: Jesus is alive, hurrah! Jesus is alive. Hurrah! Say it!

All: Jesus is alive. Hurray!

I didn’t think my understanding and appreciation for the triduum could grow any deeper. But it did that night.

(Melinda K. Fish is a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington.)

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