On our recent trip to visit our daughter in Nevada, I attended Mass at the St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, Nevada one Sunday morning in April. I always enjoy visiting other churches to hear Mass and see how they are celebrated. Most churches are in the process of opening up as the pandemic recedes, so I was especially interested in seeing how they were doing this at St. Thomas’s. I noticed that they had pews taped off as usual, but they were taped about 2 feet in which was curious. The cantor came up to the lectern and began giving some directions for the Gloria and then began the opening Easter Hymn “the strife is over“. Tears began to well up in my eyes from a flood of emotions.
I had recently been talking with other friends about the seeming lack of joy in the Easter season following Easter Sunday especially when compared with Christmas season following Christmas Day. One hears a variety of beautiful Christmas hymns before and after Christmas day: O Holy Night, Adeste Fideles, Silent Night and so on. There are many Easter hymns as well but not nearly sung as often. And here I was, over 2000 miles from home hearing the cantor and a congregation singing: “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia…..the strife is over …….” A beautiful hymn exclaiming that Christ’s suffering on the cross is over and now also the suffering from the pandemic on the way out. Bittersweet joy of Easter, the pandemic and the joy of singing for the first time in 10 months. I could barely sing along with all the feelings going on inside.
The priest started the Mass by asking everyone to greet each other which everyone did. He was especially reverent throughout the Mass and everyone participated in kind. This parish was keeping that Easter joy and what a joy it was to be there. We all need to remember that Christmas happened so that Easter could happen! The Resurrection is Jesus’ triumph over death and makes possible the joy of eternal life with Him. That is certainly a reason to keep that joyous feeling before us! I am still listening to those beautiful Easter hymns. And the warmth and love of that parish surely is boosting my soul all the way to Pentecost!
By the way, this parish brought Communion down to the people in the pews! That is why they left space in the taped off pews. I learn something new every day.
He is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia…..