Life has continued on pretty steadily for the past few weeks. I keep making new discoveries that I want to write about, but then I forget. They are usually simple things, like how power lines make crackling, buzzing noises, and how they are louder when it rains or snows. When the fields all got harvested last fall, the bike paths were covered with the remains of the suddenly exposed field mice. I would feel bad for them, but the birds of prey in the area appeared enormously contented. Sorry mice, some of you have to go, or the birds would starve. You can’t save the spider and the butterfly too. So it goes.
Lent came and gone, and now it’s Easter. I felt sorry that it went by so quickly, because I felt I hardly had any time to concentrate on it. The family I live with is not Catholic, and I never realized how much this could affect my Lent. It is difficult to focus on Christ’s passion and death, and our own place in it, when the people around you are blissfully preparing egg and bunny decorations. This isn’t to say the Naruhns are not good Christians. They devoutly attended Good Friday and Easter Sunday services at their Lutheran church. But they are not Catholic, and what I am speaking about primarily applies to a difference between the way Catholics and Protestants celebrate Easter.
Once in a while, I hear people belabor Catholics for being a depressing, dour lot, horribly focused on our sins, and too apt to ignore the positive message Christ brought. Confession, days of fasting and abstinence, crucifixes, Ash Wednesday, and probably the entire season of Lent are brought up as evidence to support this accusation. Never mind that Catholics celebrate Christmas all the way through to Epiphany. Never mind that we follow the forty days of Lent with fifty days of Easter. Never mind that we used to be accused of the exact opposite faults by stricter sects who objected to the drinking of wine. I could go into great detail regarding the theological teachings behind each of these beliefs, but I am trying very hard to keep my posts below a thousand words. Instead I want to point out only one thing: when Easter comes around for me and the Catholics I know, when we greet each other, or before we begin a meal, we often utter the jubilant cry of “Christ is Risen!” to which the proper response is “He is Risen Indeed.” I did not do this with anyone here, and if I had, I do not know what the response would have been. To be fair, I am sure most other Catholics would not have felt it the same way I do. I am well aware that I come from a somewhat a-typical Catholic community. But in general, I believe the principle holds: without proper recognition of Lent, one cannot properly recognize Easter. Without having properly mourned His death, it is impossible to fully celebrate the joy of His resurrection.
In any case, it is Easter now, and I hope I do a better job focusing on it than I did with Lent. I went to the 9:00pm Easter vigil at my church in Böblingen. I was a little worried on the way there that it would not get out in time for me to catch the 12:36 train home to Holzgerlingen, but I should have known better. Only at Christ the King does one find four hour Easter vigils. Ours was a very modest hour and a half, due to subdued singing, a complete absence of baptisms and confirmations, a homily that was under ten minutes long, and only four of the eleven readings I am accustomed to. Even in the somewhat condensed form, I felt it did a decent job. The lady who sang the prayer about the candle at the beginning (which I am sure has some special name, but I forget) did a good job, but she was not Deacon Dan. The organist is talented, but it does not beat out the CTK orchestra. The parish sang along to the songs, but did not sing themselves hoarse. The priest delivered a homily that made some good points, most of which I could follow, but I missed Fr. Ed, and I missed him shouting “Christ is Risen” from the pulpit, and I missed joining my voice with the hundreds of others who always reply “He is Risen Indeed.”
I missed it, but I have come to realize that growing up in Christ the King has made me a connoisseur of Masses, which is not always a good thing to be. Mass is just about the last thing in the world one should be stuck-up and priggish about, and it would be a both hypocrisy and irony to gloat about the quality of my church and judge the parishioners of another on the basis of their Eucharistic celebration. The important thing is that Mass was said, and the feast of the Eucharist was celebrated, and Christ is Risen, and even if my home parish does it somehow better or more charismatically than St. Maria’s in Böblingen, Christ is Risen indeed, so why should I care.
And for all of those who are still with me after all of that, I reward you with a Easter day conversation between me and die Jungs.
Me: Do you know who is coming in six days?
Jonas: Your brothers.
Me: That’s right! You know that very well! Is that super?
Jonas: No, I am going to shoot them with my pistol.
Jakob: Ja ja… fiends!
Me: But, you know that one of my brothers has a cowboy hat, right?
Jonas: *wide eyed* Does he have a pistol too?
Me: No, just a cowboy hat.
Jakob: Is it a funny hat?
Me: No no, it’s a real hat.
Jonas: Has he stolen any gold?
Me: Has he what now?
Jonas: Has he stolen any gold?
Me: What is “stolen?”
Jonas: It’s what pirates do. They steal lots of gold, and then they hide it in a cave.
Me: Do you mean, they take gold and put it in a box? Does he have any treasure?
Jonas: No! Has he stolen any gold!
Me: Um… I don’t think so… (Andrea, what does “stolen” mean?)
Word count: 1062. I lose.