Easter 2020 Was Painful to Watch

 

April 16, 2020

Monsignor Torgerson leads a virtual procession past the empty pews of St. Monica's Catholic Church on Easter Sunday, 4/12/2020. Lillies stood in for parishioners. They will be donated to medical care workers.

BY Janet McLaughlin

Watching my church celebrate Palm Sunday this year was painful.

Every year, a crowd gathers on the church steps, gathering palms. We wave them as we process into the church singing; in commemoration of Jesus' triumph into Jerusalem. This year the church was dark. The priests were alone.

While I was grateful that they live streamed the Mass, it hurt more than I thought. There was no communal confession on Tuesday, when a dozen priests in white robes march in, and hear people's sins in all corners of the church.

There was a livestream on Holy Thursday, but with no congregants to have their feet washed. On Good Friday, seeing the life-sized cross wrapped in red usually fills me with emotion. But this year, I felt numb.

And of course, there was no reenactment of the passion of the Christ, where Jesus is whipped by soldiers, jeered by the crowd, forced to carry the cross, then crucified. As tough as all of these masses have been to watch, Easter will be the hardest.


Last year at this time, my son made all his sacraments.

I have the pictures of him beaming while Monsignor poured the sacred oil on his forehead, and while he renounces Satan. I have the memories of the pride and joy I felt being there.

But this year, again, the church is dark. God bless the priests for hanging in there and doing the best they can, and for the "virtual choir", and for all the people who work hard to make sure there is still a Mass, that we can watch at home.

But as much as I try and pretend, it is not the same.

I miss seeing everyone, more than I realized. I miss shaking their hands.

I miss having Monsignor pat me on the shoulder, and tell me it's good to see me.

I suppose that is one light in this darkness, that I appreciate more the common things now. Going to the store and picking up toilet paper or paper towels when I run low, and choosing the brand I want from a packed shelf.

Picking my son up from school, watching him laughing with his friends, chatting with other parents while I'm waiting. Taking him to Boy Scouts, and Theater class, and Surf team. Celebrating birthdays, visiting my family, holding an Easter egg hunt, watching my daughter Irish dance.

I miss it all so much my heart aches. And it all seems so long ago, that life was normal.

It's too bad that it takes a worldwide pandemic to realize what a wonderful life we all had. Our lives are made up of moments, some extraordinary, but most ordinary.

And I bet that until now, we didn't realize how precious that was, the mundane events that make us who we are. So I will watch Easter Mass on livestream. I will cook an Easter ham and bake an Easter cake, ordinary moments that we will now remember. I will be grateful that we are all home together, safe and healthy.

I will think about Jesus being resurrected. And I will hope, and pray, that our city, our state, our country, and our world, will also rise again.

 

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