Monday, April 5, 2010

Higher up and further in.

A blessed Easter Octave to everyone! Lent unintentionally turned into a blog fast for me--the bigger belly, various virii, puffy fingers, and a husband in the final throes of dissertating were all welcome contributors.

And Holy Week was... outside time.

The Scientist Dad defended his dissertation on Monday: He is now officially a PhD! It was a little Easter-before-Easter for the family. Then he whisked me off for three days at the beach--just the two of us (plus in utero child). And, just like our honeymoon, we pretty much just napped the whole time.

Then it was Triduum. I've been getting sick again at night--not hyper emesis, to be sure, but some extreme nausea--so we split Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I went to the Mass, and he hit the Good Friday liturgy. But we boldly (brashly?) took both girls to the Easter Vigil Saturday night. It was very good. Miriam got punch-drunk at about 9.30pm, and Bella spent most of the night in Daddy's arms in the back of the chapel. But both girls seem to deal with exhaustion by getting quieter, rather than fussing, which was a blessing! Miriam was captivated by the three adult, full-immersion baptisms as well as the nine confirmations. She's been chanting the saint names repeatedly for most of this morning.

It was a great grace to watch the children experience the Vigil Mass and the joy of Easter morning. The added weight and aches of late pregnancy have drained me of the usual emotional gifts of the Triduum--the highs and lows just weren't there.

But that in itself is a great gift: So many adults commented last week about which liturgies make them "feel right" or which songs they "simply have to sing at Easter." I know. I am the same way. Good Friday without "O Sacred Head" just seems wrong. And the butchered version of "Adoro Te" (why can't we just stick to Hopkins' masterful translation?) was a real let-down on Holy Thursday.

Things aren't going to be perfect this side of the Jordan. The hope and goal is to grow, not so that our feelings become more acute and not so that our emotions feel ever greater pleasures, but rather so that we grow into other Christs, alter Christus.

In the neuroscience world my husband inhabits, "religious people" are often dismissed as being "those whose brains activate the religious feeling more than usual." The world tells us it's all about the feelings.

The feelings are a gift and great pleasure, but they are always at the service of a greater good: Drawing closer to the person of Christ, who is alive. "Closer" means that our wills are more and more in conformity with the Father's. Our lives are becoming an ever more prevalent "YES" to every moment He gives us--with or without the feelings.

This was my Lenten lesson.


Melanie B said...

Thanks for this. I have to confess I'm really struggling to feel the Easter joy. Everything still feels flat and it hardy seems different from Lent. We didn't feel able to participate in any of the Triduum services this year. And except for the abundance of flowers and the singing of the Sequence Easter Sunday Mass felt to me like just another Sunday. Down to a bunch of mediocre hymns that did nothing to express the joy I wanted to be feeling. I know it's not about feelings but I feel like I failed in all my attempts at fasting, at deepening my prayer life, at making it to confession. At everything.

Erika said...

I'm right there with you! It's got to have a lot to do with the lack of sleep...

Melanie B said...

Oh yeah. Lack of sleep. I went to the doctor for a medication check on my thyroid and he asked if I seemed to be feeling better. I said, well, the medicine could be working but I can't tell. I can't remember the last time I got a good night's sleep. It's been months and months. I feel sure if I could just catch two or three good nights in a row things would really seem much, much easier.

Claire said...

Melanie & Erika, this Easter, I just discovered these inspiring words, recalled every Easter by Orthodox Christians. They seem especially meaningful for those who feel as if they "haven't kept the fast":

Melanie B said...

Claire, that is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Lola said...

Congratulations to Philosopher Dad on his PhD. (He already was one, now it's just official.)

"religious people" are often dismissed as being "those whose brains activate the religious feeling more than usual." The world tells us it's all about the feelings.

I can assure them that religion I turned to was more "logical" than the world that oozed 'feelings'.

"If it feels good"
"It's all relative"
"I'm Okay, You're Okay"

I hope your feeling fine this last stretch before you bring the new bebe home!

Claire said...

Just wanted to say...saying prayers for you and yours. Hope the last few weeks go smoothly.


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Wow, only twenty days left? Hang in there! And congrats to Dad on his PhD. End of a long road and beginning of a challenging career!