Easter Vigil, One Year Later

While I don’t talk much about my faith journey on my blog, I was reminiscing the other day about how it has been a year since my baptism and conversion to Catholicism.  The year has been full of learning and growth, and I’m forever thankful for the change that has come to my life since joining my Parish.  The people there are amazing: loving and kind, supportive and helpful, and full of a heaping dose of reality if you get to be too big for your pants.  I adore them all, and love to help out wherever I can.

Which brings me to this post.  A few weeks back, right before we left for Alaska (which is a blog post all unto itself), the Adult Faith Formation leader, Kathy, shot out an email to the RCIA class from last year.  Apparently, each year, the RCIA class from the year prior helps stock the food for the following class’s Easter Vigil.  Always up for an excuse to cook, I quickly volunteered to help set up for the vigil, as well as provide a few dozen deviled eggs for the party.

Now, there’s a story to deviled eggs.  Growing up, it was the ONLY dish I was allowed to help with on the major holidays.  My mother ran her kitchen like a General runs his military unit.  Everything had a place and a place for everything, and God help you if it wandered under your watch.  Needless to say, deviled eggs became my speciality, and I was pleased to be able to share the with everyone this Easter!  However, I needed something with a bit more “oomph” than just regular old deviled eggs.  So, after a little bit of thought, a quick bit of research, and a short trip to the store, I had everything I needed.

DYED DEVILED EGGS.  That’s right…why serve any boring old, white deviled eggs?  This is the 21st century, folks…the land of Pinterest!  Why be inspired when you can be PINspired?!  (Lame, I know…feel free to express your groans)  I quickly set to work, hard boiling my eggs and peeling them to get started.  As a fair note, I have tried every trick under the sun to get my eggs to peel easily.  So far, hasn’t happened.  I’ve damn near given up and just accepted the fact that my eggs look like they escaped from a leper colony (no offense to any lepers reading).  But, nothing a little dye wouldn’t fix, right?

picstitch 2I peeled and cut up my eggs, disposing the yolk in a bowl, and set to dying.  I wanted the colors to be super vibrant, so I bought two dye packs and used 2 tablets per one dye cup, just so the colors would be ultra saturated.  I also used vinegar, though not as much as the packet said, because I didn’t want my deviled eggs to taste pickled.  Because that’s just gross, I don’t care who you are.

The eggs dyed up really well, and I let them dry over night in the fridge.  This morning, I whipped up the filling, and grabbed my icing piping bags to fill them.  I thought that I had some icing tips around here somewhere, but apparently they’ve disappeared (or I never bought them, either is entirely possible), but none the less I made do.  I left out the pickle relish in the filling, as I’ve recently been told that some people don’t like pickle in their deviled eggs (THE TRAVESTY!), and instead opted to cut a sliver of pickle and stuff it in the middle of the filling as a garnish on half the eggs.  Problem solved!

Here are my Easter Dyed Deviled Eggs!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them…it was a ton of fun!

Much love,

It’s happened.

As of Saturday evening, I am now a baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic!  Holy Week started last Thursday, and it was a whirlwind of activity all weekend.  Very busy, but it was a great time.

Thursday was Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday.  Part of the mass was a foot washing ceremony, symbolic of when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet during the Last Supper.  I was initially really nervous about this, because I am not a fan of being in front of others as the center of attention.  But, once I got there, and we did a walk-through, a lot of the nervousness faded.  Then, when it was time for the ceremony during the mass, I was totally fine.  No nervousness (which was odd).  The ceremony was surprisingly beautiful.  All of the people in RCIA (those going through preparing for baptism and those preparing for confirmation) were up there as well, and both priests were washing feet, one at a time.  During all of this, the story of the last supper was being read and music was being played.  It was really nice (plus, the church was freezing due to an AC issue, and the water was warm, so I can’t complain too much).

Then, after mass, I stuck around to watch the church be stripped.  This was when all the adornments were removed from the altar and the walls, and wouldn’t be brought be in until the Easter Vigil.  It was very solemn and quiet, and just a time for a lot of reflection and thinking about where I with my faith and where I wanted to end up.  It was just, overall, really nice and thought-provoking.

Friday was spent with a ton of house remodel stuff going on.  It was basically “go” from the moment we woke up.  We got a ton of things done with the bathroom (which is another post in the making), as well as some cleaning and general readying of the house.  We had the day off work as a holiday for Good Friday, so we tried to put it to use (days off are rare in our work).  We hung a lot of cement board in the bathroom, and my shower is starting to look like, well, a shower!  Very exciting stuff, to say the least.

Saturday was the big day!  We had a dress rehearsal / run through for the Easter Vigil service at 11:00am that was to last “at least an hour.”  Two and a half hours later, we were finished.  I’m glad we had it though, because there was so much that went on, I wouldn’t have known what to do!  After that, I ran over to the local outlet mall to grab a few things, then back home to help out around the house before the evening mass.  I had to be at the church by 7:45pm at the latest, so I left around 7:00pm to give myself plenty of time and to get my stuff set up.  We’d been warned that we would be DRENCHED…so to bring a change of clothes.  ALL items would need to be changed.  So, I wanted to make sure that my outfit was set up, that my hair dryer and stuff were all ready to go, and that I had everything I needed.  After that, I just hung out and waited for the show to start.

7:45pm rolled around and we started with a fire pit outdoors that was blessed and then used to light the Paschal Candle.  From there, all the sponsors and godparents had candles that were lit off the Paschal candle, and were then brought back into the church to light everyone else’s candle in the congregation.  The cool thing about the Easter Vigil is that the church starts off in darkness.  Then, as those of us being baptized and confirmed come in with our sponsors, the sponsors light candles of those in the congregation, and the candle light slowly spreads throughout the church.  It’s really quite gorgeous.  After that, there were some prayers, some readings, a homily…the usual stuff.  Then, the baptism.

I had been “chosen” to be baptized first.  Kathy (RCIA director) said it was because I had a way of putting everyone else at ease.  Honestly, I think it’s because she knows that 90% of the time I end up making a fool of myself, and at least she’d get a few laughs out of the peanut gallery.  But, whatever…po-tay-to / po-tah-to.  It was my turn, so I got into the baptismal font, kneeled, and Father Clem poured water of me three times, baptizing me in “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  And then…it was done.  I was helped out, given a towel, a white robe garment to wear over my clothes for the rest of the vigil, and then whisked away to “Conference Room #1” to get changed.  The entire process took, maybe, 3 minutes.  And while it seemed fast, it also seemed to slow down a bit, and was very profound for me.  It was truly a culmination of the process I had been undertaking for the past seven months.  Plus, again…the water was warm and the church was cold.  I couldn’t complain.

After that, things seemed to speed past.  Everyone was baptized, then those children not being confirmed (because they were too young) were anointed with oils, then we were all brought back into the church for more prayers, more readings, and Confirmation.  Because I was an adult and had decided to go through this process, I was baptized, confirmed, and given first Eucharist all in one church service.  After the baptism, we were then taken through confirmation.  At this point, we were anointed with oils on our forehead and were sent back to our seats (the oils smelled lovely, truly…but good lord were they overpowering!).  After about an hour of more prayers, more readings, and another homily, it was time for Eucharist (nearing the end!).  By this point, it was probably 11:15pm and J and I were exhausted!  So, I received my first Communion in the Catholic Church.  Then, a few more prayers, another song or two, and we were done!  At midnight.  Oy!

So, overall…it’s been an incredibly long past few days.  Well worth it in every way, but long.  J stuck with it though and stayed for the entire Easter Vigil (I was proud of him…he had no idea what was going on), and I told him his Catholic duty now extended to Christmas services only.  I figured I’d let him off the hook for Easter after that one.  I’m incredibly glad I did it, and I’m so eager to see where my faith journey will lead me.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, well done!  I know it was a long one!

Much love,

19 days…

It’s hard to believe that time has flown by so quickly.  In nineteen short days, I will a) be baptized, b) undergo confirmation, and c) receive the Eucharist with the Roman Catholic Church.  This will all happen at the Easter Vigil, which occurs Saturday evening at sundown, prior to Easter Sunday.  From what I’ve been told, it’s going to be a very long evening…the vigil normally starts at sundown, and then lasts around 4-5 hours!

I started RCIA classes in September last year.  I had several Catholic friends, had gone to a few Catholic churches, and really just wanted to see what it was all about.  The people at our parish were so welcoming, so friendly, and I honestly felt right at home.  I felt like a part that had been missing in me had been found.  I won’t go into what a “spiritual” experience it was, because it really didn’t feel like that to me.  I met C (who would later become my sponsor), and he grew on me.  K (the RCIA leader) was this Energizer bunny of Catholic knowledge and humor.  Father D and Father C were helpful, funny, and like the big brother/father who helped you when you needed it, or would give you a swift kick in the rear (if that was needed too).  The parishioners I’ve met so far are really nice, genuinely helpful and wanting to give of their time, and throughout the process, I sort of got attached!  Now, in no way am I saying everyone is perfect…they’re far from it.  But, the people I encounter and seek out are genuine and truly lovely people.  So…after several weeks of meeting people, tons of reading and questions, and lots of internal reflection, I decided to make the commitment and become Catholic.

The Easter Vigil is actually four days of events, starting with Holy Thursday.  There are ceremonies and rituals leading up dusk on Saturday evening, when the Priest lights a fire and then a single candle is lit from that fire.  The church is completely dark, and only the catechumens (those unbaptized at this point, but going to be baptized that evening) bring candles lit from the fire into the darkened church.  They then light the candles of people in the pews, who continue lighting candles of those near them.  Eventually, the church is lit by candle light, and the priest does a series of readings.  Then, the baptism.  I am currently unbaptized, so I will undergo baptism in the Catholic church.  This happens as one of the first things…we’re dressed in dark gowns, baptized, and then taken away to get dried off and ready for the rest of the ceremony.  When we come back in, we’ll have white gowns, representing our cleansed soul.  After the baptisms, then confirmation takes place, and finally the Liturgy of the Eucharist (or Communion) with the rest of the parish.

I am a bag of mixed feelings.  I am so excited for this moment.  I’ve been working hard, doing a LOT of soul-searching and education, and I feel ready for the next step.  On the other hand, I hate being the center of attention, and I’ll be the first person baptized that evening (in front of the parish).  It’s creating a small amount of anxiety for me, but I understand that, at times, we must all do things that are difficult for us, in order to profess our faith to the world.  So…I’ll suck it up.  But I’ll be honest, I probably won’t eat, because the last thing I want to do is vomit in the baptismal font…how would that be for a “defining moment”?!

I don’t really post a whole lot about what many call our “Faith Journey” on my blog.  I look at my faith as a private thing…if people have questions, I’m happy to talk about it, but it isn’t something I bring up very often with strangers.  I try to lead by example and be a good person, and hopefully through that I can be a light to others to lead a good life as well.  I hope people see me as a joyful person, and find inspiration in that.  That’s really my goal, what I want to achieve as time progresses and I delve deeper into my faith.

So…in 19 short days, my life will undergo a drastic transformation (not that it hasn’t already started).  My journey has really only begun, but I’m excited and looking forward with anticipation.  I’m excited, overwhelmed (in a good way), and, most of all, ready.  If any of you have any questions, or want to hear more about why I’ve decided to go down this path, feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer!

Much love,

Sometimes, there’s a reason.

So, have you ever had the feeling like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, at this time, for a reason?  I’ve never been a huge proponent of fate or anything, but I do feel like we’re all here for a reason and occasionally that reason is brought up to us, front and center.  And that happened to me yesterday.

I’ve talked a bit before how I’m converting to Catholicism at our local parish.  I’ve really enjoyed the classes that I’ve sat through and the masses that I’ve attended.  I feel very welcomed, and the people are really nice.  Overall…a good choice!

Last night was another RCIA class.  My sponsor is an older gentleman, C., who is 86.  When I first met him, there was something about him that reminded me of my dad, so I was happy to have him as a sponsor.  He’s an older guy, gruff, former Army…great guy.  He’s just this sweet old guy.  Last night, he told me that he had a doctor’s appointment that morning, and he had to take a memory test.  Last year he missed 2 questions, this year he missed 5.  And before he told me this, over the past few months, I’ve noticed how he had a lot of the same mannerisms (regarding memory) as my dad, who has Alzheimer’s.  So, when he told me about the memory tests, I understood what the doctor was looking for and checking.  And C. just looked so scared and nervous.  And I realized, maybe this is why I have felt so compelled to come back to church now…to this church, at this time.  And why I felt like C. was THE sponsor for me, even though I’d never really met the guy.  I feel like my experiences in helping my dad deal with his Alzheimer’s was put to use to help C. with what he is going through in his life.

During the lesson, C. wrote me a note on a card.  He told me that God gave him a gift, and that gift was me.  He said that, even though I didn’t know it, these past few weeks I’ve been giving him a lot of support and he was so thankful for me.  And honestly, I nearly teared up!

So, I feel like there was a reason to why I have felt so strongly to find a church, particular a Catholic church, over the past half-year.  I feel like I was meant to be here, at this time, to meet C. and to be friends and support for each other.  It’s pretty cool, actually!

Have any of you ever had that type of experience, like you were meant to be at this place for this reason?

Much love,