Dear Pope Francis,
Last night was the first time I went to the Easter Vigil in English. The only other time I went was in 2007 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was a powerful cultural experience, but I missed a lot because of the language difference.
The Vigil was loaded with symbolism, which I loved. What impacted me the most was the light and darkness. We began in almost complete darkness. We lit our candles from the Paschal candle. The lady sitting beside me had told me that after we blew out the candles, the lights would come on. The priest invited us to blow out the candles and listen to God’s action in history. The congregation sat down to listen, but the lights didn’t come one. The first reading was from the first creation account from Genesis. I figured that the lights would come on when God created light and dark – except they didn’t. All of the readings and Psalms were done by flashlight, while the rest of the congregation sat in darkness.
After the fourth reading, from the prophet Ezekiel, the lights came on. Special prayers announcing the Resurrection were said, as lights were turned on. Most were turned on all at once, but as we sang the Gloria for the first time since Ash Wednesday, a few other smaller lights around the Church were turned on.
This Lent has been challenging, with a lot of darkness. Holding onto that one lit candle in the darkness struck me. That was how I felt for much of Lent, I could see what was immediately in front of me by the small light, and I could see shapes in the darkness but I didn’t know what they were. Expecting the lights to turn at certain points is like all of those times I made a plan and expected that God was going to act according to that plan, except He didn’t and I was left waiting in the darkness a little bit longer.
Finally, when I didn’t know what to expect any more, the light came on, and it was more overwhelming than I had expected. I could see everything now, and it was all beautiful: the prayers, the Gloria, the Church itself. As we sang the Gloria, a few other lights were turned on. These were smaller lights, and I didn’t notice they were missing, but when they were turned on, they still added more light to the Church. This is what happened at the end of Lent, when things started to fall into place in unexpected ways. God poured out love and good things into my life. Even after I thought He had poured everything, like all the lights being turned on, there were a few more things for him to share. Like those last few lights to be turned on, I didn’t realize these little good things were there, but when I did, they made everything brighter.
I’ve heard it said many times that we are an ‘Easter people’, and I didn’t quite understand what exactly that meant. Now I’m starting to understand. We are a people of hope, even in the darkness. We wait and hope to meet the Risen Christ at the Tomb or the Upper Room. We may have our doubts or not recognize Jesus, but we keep looking because that is who we are, a hopeful people eagerly anticipating Christ’s return.
Celebrating in the light,