The Church has many masses in a year, the regular Sunday mass, special occasions like church festivals, days of significants, Christmas or Easter. Among all the masses, the Easter Vigil is the longest mass of the year. Jesus was crucified and buried, his fellowers is waiting patient for his raise of death. Unlike normal mass that has only 3 readings, the Vigil has 8 readings and a Gospel. In additional, new adult Catholics are also baptised in the Vigil after studying the catechism since last September. The mass is 3 hours long and it’s starts at 10p.m. I think it’s a small miracle that I did not fall asleep.
Pat is the sponsor for her friend’s baptism. Since I am married with Pat, I am also a co-sponsor. Ada is our first god-daughter, although she is only a few years younger than us. It is a joy to see some one baptism and joined the family of the Church. When Ada shows up in Pat choir a few years back then, I image she would eventually drift away to join the more youth protestant church. Somehow to me, she doesn’t look like the type of people would become a Catholic. The profile does not fit but I guess there are always exceptions.
I felt very peaceful in the Easter Vigil. 3 hours passed surprisingly fast without even feeling bored. The first 3 readings was in darkness, the ceiling lights are turned off and we can only rely on the candle in our hands. Watching the candle fire dance in my hand and listening to the Latin chants gives me a mystical experience. My mind is drawn to the fire along with all my worries and let the worries burn in the flame. I didn’t pay much attention to the reading nor the homily, athough some words slip into my ear from time to time. My mind was wandering, thinkings pop up and go. All my worries, angers, expectations and contemplations flashed across my mind, until all my thoughts are exhausted. When the priest is preparing the eucharist, my mind was almost empty and sort of in a state of mediatation. I felt the Easter Vigil had gave me strength to live through the suffering in life.
I am not a good christian according to the Church’s standard. I don’t like going to church every week, although I don’t mind. Actually, I don’t even agree with the teaching that christians should go to church every week. However, Christmas and Easter are the two occasion that I believe all chritian should go to church. It is OK not go to church on normal days, but not on these two important days. That is the mininium requirement of being a christian.
Last night I went to a Good Friday retreat. The event was for young adults and the topic is on suffering. Father Justin had a talk on what suffering can benefits us and we can embrace suffering for Jesus. We listened to a suffering story by surviving POW prisoner in Vietnam and did a group sharing. Other than the presentation of the core message, there were also the usual activities of any retreat, like an ice breaker, Rosary, praise and worship.
The message of the night is about the usual fuzzy warm feeling about God’s love. We did not talk about the question of why suffering exists. I can see a positive altitude on suffering can help us coup better with suffering, especially those we can do nothing to change. It is true that suffering may benefit us, but it still does not explain why it should exists in the first place. It seems suffering has no intrinsic value but only instrumental value, it only serves the function to bring us closer to God. However it does not follow that is the only way or the best way. An almighty God should able to accomplish the same task without suffering.
One popular church saying is that God will not let us suffer that we cannot take. Maybe those who survived the suffering can thank God for the test to make him a better man, but what about those who can’t make it out. The POW prisoner did not regret his horrible experience in the POW camp that brings him closer to God. But what about his fellow prisoners who never get home. There over 2500 American soldiers captured by Vietnamese, after 5 years of in prison, only 300 are still alive, the mortality rate is over 80%. It is undisputed that those only who have faith can survive the suffering. But where is the meaning of the suffering of the dead whose life are lost in vain.
The take home message of the retreat is that suffering can make us a better person and closer to God. I do agree with this message, especially when it applies to others. There must some people really bothers you in your life, they did not intended to hurt you but it happens there are faults in their characters. If they can become a better person and closer to God, their problems, and yours, should go away. In this case, wishing them to suffer is not out of hate nor revenge, but sincerely for their own good so that they can learn some lessons from God.
I went to Whislter with Pat today to try out her new snowboard. The weather is pretty good, and the snow condition is great. This is the first time I went to Whislter with just Pat and no one else. Today is quite an easy day for me since I need to company Pat go down the slope slowly. Since today is the Good Friday, on our way back we talked about Jesus and the cross. Then I came up with a new theory on Jesus’ resurrection. According to the Bible, Mary Magdalene found the tomb was empty on Sunday morning, this can only show Jesus was resurrected by that time, but doesn’t preclude Jesus had resurrected on a much earlier time. My new theory is Jesus was raised from death once the stone of the tomb is sealed, so Jesus was dead only for several hours instead of three days. Jesus, who also has God’s duty, must be a busy man, he can’t afford doing nothing for 3 whole days lying in the tomb. He must had seize the time between his death and his reappearance in front of others to accomplish some unkown but yet important tasks. The direct consequences of my new theory is the Apostles Creed and related versus in the Bible has to be updated. That 3 days of Jesus’ life not recorded by the Bible can open up lots of interesting conspiracies, maybe it will be the plot of the sequel of Da Vinci’s Code, or even foundations of a whole new sect of christianity.