Sights and sounds top list of Easter favorites
Readers share precious moments of Easter Mass
By Patricia Kasten
Compass Associate Editor
What is the most meaningful part of the Easter liturgy celebration for you? The candles
at the Vigil Mass? The Easter Gospel? Once again singing the Gloria? The flowers and
banners? Something else?
This is what we asked Compass readers to reflect on as we journeyed through Lent
toward the joy of Easter.
Nineteen people responded, including the confirmation students at Holy Redeemer-Sacred Heart in Two Rivers. Also the Simons family of New London, members of St.
Patrick Parish in Lenbanon, made answering the question a group project.
All reponses reflect the joy that fills our celebrations -- from the Easter music and
triumphant Glorias, to bright candles, to new spring clothes and the gathering of families,
to the realization that Easter is the promise of our own triumph over suffering and death.
No matter our fondest memories of Easter, we all feel some dimension of what Agnes Miller of Long Lake wrote: "... this Mass always reminds me of that heavenly gathering when families and friends, united in the Resurrected Christ, will sing out Alleluia, thanking Christ for His Sacrifice on Calvary to redeem us."
Below are excerpts from the answers we received.
I absolutely love the readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch and Ezekiel
presented in the almost dark. Then the bright lights and the beautiful flowers presented
by families of those buried from the parish the past year - with the pervading, insistent,
uplifting pealing of bells. (Our entire parish is invited to bring and ring bells.) This leads
us into the glorious Gloria; our choir is the best and here I truly feel Easter. The vigil
services we attended while traveling were such a disappointment it prompted a note to
our liturgist; the parish's special services were desperately missed!
St. Mary Parish, Kaukauna
One of the most impressive parts of the Holy Week liturgy for me is the Gloria on Holy
Thursday and Holy Saturday, especially if it is done with all the bells. Years ago my then
boyfriend (we have been married for 47 years) went to Holy Thursday Mass with me for
his first time to attend Mass with me. He was not Catholic but is now. He remembers the
wooden "clappers" used instead of the silenced bells. Do some parishes still use them?
Women "dressed up" for Mass and Holy Week brought out a preview of the Easter finery.
St. Patrick Parish, Lebanon
For me the most meaningful particular in the Easter liturgy celebration is that all doors of
the iconostasis remain fully open throughout all of Bright Week. - The gates of heaven
thrown open! As for a certain memory of the Easter liturgy I fondly remember the lilting
melody notated for the Lauds Benedictus antiphon. The words were: "And very early the
morning after the sabbath, they came to the sepulcher, the sun having just risen, alleluia."
(Editor's note: Br. Austin is referring to the Easter celebrations of the Greek churches. The iconostasis is the great partition that separates the sanctuary from the main body of
the church. It consists of three doors, including the royal door leading directly to the altar, and is adorned with icons. Bright Week is what the Orthodox church calls Easter Week.)
Br. Austin Mysliwiec, OFM
I always look forward to attending Easter services at Holy Cross Parish, Bay Settlement.
Upon arrival, it's a bit dark out, and taking our seats outside, soon, (weather permitting)
the sun begins to rise and you can hear the birds sing - as if in celebration of the Risen
Christ. It reminds me of my childhood when my grandmother's friend would tell us to
"watch the sun on Easter Morn, and you'll seen it dance, in celebration of Christ's
St. Joseph Parish, Champion
On Easter morning in 1968 I jumped out of bed and, like any other eight-year-old, started
searching for my Easter basket. Since I'd given up candy for Lent, my mouth was
watering at the thought of chocolate bunnies, red jellybeans and marshmallow lambs.
"Aha! That's mine, in the dryer!"
I also looked forward to Easter Mass because it meant wearing my new blue ruffled
dress. My sister Diane and I would hold our white-gloved hands and lead the family on
our five-block jaunt to church. Once inside St. Mary's (in Hilbert) we would smile at our
friends and neighbors in anticipation of the best part of the Mass - the hymns! After the
more somber Lenten songs. . . "These 40 Days of Lent, Oh Lord. . ." the organ swells of
"Christ the Lord is Risen Today!" would bring joy to my heart and a smile to my voice
on Easter morning. As an adult, the Easter Mass is even more special to me. Easter is a
time of re-birth and new beginnings. This year as the organ swells with "Christ the Lord
is Risen Today", the little eight-year-old in me will grin up at the adult and be filled with
Easter joy and the promise of Spring.
St. Augustine Parish, Chilton
Easter Mass is the best spiritual renewal for me. With the ringing of the bells, the Gloria,
the Easter Candle, whether celebrated in my small Long Lake church or in the grand
cathedral, this Mass always reminds me of that heavenly gathering when families and
friends, united in the Resurrected Christ, will sing out Alleluia, thanking Christ for His
Sacrifice on Calvary to redeem us.
Agnes R. Miller
After 40 days of Lent, where thought-filled singing is at a minimum and the Alleluia is
silenced, I look forward to the Easter Vigil. I anticipate the Easter Proclamation, a once a
year treat! With the new Easter candle aglow and in place, and our individual candles lit,
we proclaim as a community the Risen Lord, the Light of the World. And, of course, the
triumphant Easter songs with their Alleluias, the Gloria with the ringing of the bells, and
the hope-filled Gospel message, uplift my Lenten spirit. It is also a privilege to witness
those received and welcomed into the full communion of the Catholic Church. The Easter
Vigil is truly "the most joyful of the year."
Sr. Carmelyn Gentrup
Who can bear the reality of life - except for EASTER! The promise of Easter makes sense
out of tragedy. I go to Mass on Easter to practice the glory of the resurrection: to stand
up, sing Alleluia and believe that God raises us up. In one way, Easter tells about what
happened to Jesus. But quite dramatically, Easter tells what's happening to us; our
journey of life, passion, death and resurrection. I come to Mass on Easter to practice the
resurrection part: to grow in faith and know that God shares the power to rise. Who can
bear the reality of life - except for Easter.
Diann E. Wimmer
I like the Easter vigil. The church is all dark. But the best is when all the candles are lit. The church is only lit up by the candles.
I like when the Easter candle gets blessed and gets taken to the altar. I also like that I get
to wear the pretty dress my mom makes me.
Serving as an altar boy all of Holy Week. On Easter vigil after Father is done blessing the
Easter candle and lights it, I light my candle off of the Easter candle. I light the candles at
the end of the pews coming up the aisle to the altar. And the smells of the Easter lilies are
In the Mass I remember the Lord suffered and died for us, then rose in victory. We remember that Jesus destroyed our death and restored our life, and that he took away our sins. The gospel seems to really pinpoint what Easter really means. At times it seems to take me right to the scene of the story and I am watching the story instead of listening to
it. The candles at Mass remind us of the dark times that Jesus had to face on his own. The
candles also remind me of the light at the end of a dark hallway symbolizing God's
presence and that he will help you when you ask him
Two Rivers Religious Education Program at the Community of Holy Redeemer-Sacred
Heart also addressed the question as a group. Each class sent in their own answer:
The opening chords of the long forgotten "Gloria" fill the air. Ah! Easter time again!
Table two at Wednesday night's religion class decided that even though we missed the
"Gloria" our favorite part is the magnificent candle display at the Easter Vigil. First, one
solitary candle burns brightly in the darkened church. Then one by one candles flicked
on, illuminating the beautiful decorated church. We also find that the candle's smoke
adds an unexpected and often unnoticed twist. Candle smoke rises as Jesus rises from the
dead. That is the most significant part of the Mass, the reason why we are there.
Junior Confirmation Class and Mrs. Judi Bodwin, Catechist
What does the Easter Sunday mass mean to all of us? To us it means families coming together and earth springing back to life to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As
you walk into church, we see beautiful colors and flowers, as if we are entering 'God's
Greenhouse.' Seeing little girls in their Easter hats and dresses reminds us of our pure
and innocent youth. As we've grown older, we are now able to realize what the
Resurrection really is. The most prominent figure at the Easter Mass is the priest who can
give a wonderful sermon that can warm our hearts.
Junior Confirmation Class and Mrs. Marie Jaszewski/Mrs. Jenny Writt, Catechists
We like the colorful decorations after not having any decorations during Lent. We are
happy that Lent is over and we don't have to fast. The Easter Vigil Mass was especially
meaningful to us because when we light the candles at the beginning of Mass, they
signify Christ as a light on us. Finally, when we sing the Gloria, once again we become
aware of the meaning of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus.
Junior Confirmation Class and Mrs. Marilee Hirvela, Catechist
Many people hold Easter traditions close to their hearts. There are many different things
about Easter Mass to enjoy and look forward to each year. One of the most obvious is
likely the high population crowded closely together in the beautiful church. The bright
colors liven up the priest and the altar, giving people hope for a warm spring to soon
arrive. The soft music and joyous songs flood the ears of all. Easter is awesome!
Junior Confirmation Class and Mrs. Rosemary Koch, Catechist
Our group's favorite things at Easter Mass are all the bright colors, flowers and the
joyous environment. The bright colors of the priest's vestment, flowers and banners
make the environment of the Mass cheerful and happy. This makes us feel closer to Jesus
since this is the day he has risen and the most important holiday of the Catholic Religion.
Although it's our Church's most important day, it is also an important day for our
families to take part in the celebrations.
Junior Confirmation Class and Mrs. Corrine Duffek/Mrs. Sharon Wojta, Catechists
Easter means getting candy and presents from the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts and
sometimes spending time with your family. Easter also has another meaning which is the
Mass. Going to the Easter Vigil Mass is spending time with your God in many ways. The
wax dripping from the glowing candles symbolizes the way we melt for our Lord. Also
the candles have a beautiful glow that symbolizes God's presence. Singing of the 'Gloria'
is singing to your God, letting him hear your prayers through your voice. The most
meaningful part of the Mass by far is as simple as being with your Lord, feeling his
presence and celebrating the holiday, Easter!
Junior Confirmation Program and Mrs. Cindy Pauly, Catechist
As the light of the world, the light of Christ burns from within the congregation at an Easter Vigil service. The pews overflow with family that were reunited to celebrate the joyous event. The music rings of happiness and is filled with much more than just the usual piano and choir. Trumpets and bells fill the air, adding to the experience. The
congregation is nourished by the wide variety of scriptural readings. Love, joy, happiness! That is what is featured at the Easter Vigil.
Junior Confirmation Class and Dcn. Ken Coenen, Catechist