Easter celebrations begin, not on Easter Sunday morning - but with the Solemn Easter Vigil - divided into 4 parts: the Blessing of the New Fire; the (extended) Liturgy of the Word; the Celebration of Baptism & Confirmation; the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Rather than attending the Vigil with the Holy Father, Cardinal O'Brien and I decided to go up to the NAC once again for their Vigil. Because it is a seminary and not a parish the NAC had no baptisms (since I HOPE all the seminarians are already baptized). But we knew it would be a wonderful celebration - I think I've mentioned before how wonderful the choir is at the NAC - truly talented young men who obviously put in a lot of rehearsal time and who sing to the glory and honor of God. Cardinal Raymond Burke was the celebrant for the Solemn Vigil. I've found the NAC Facebook page that has posted some photos of the Vigil, including this one of Cardinal O'Brien with me right behind him...
We were not disappointed - the liturgy was BEAUTIFUL! Although it was certainly strange for me - not presiding... A few weeks before I left Gettysburg, Bishop Malesic (of Greensburg) called me to congratulate me on my new assignment. He mentioned how strange it will be - after having been a pastor - to not preside at Mass on Sunday, not preach regularly, not have much pastoral work... strange for those of us who have been pastors. Yet he told me to remember that this right now is my "work" - a different kind of ministry and priestly service - not that of a pastor, but as one who works to build up the Church in the Holy Land through the work and charity of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. He is right - and I continue to remind myself of this fact.
Following the Vigil Mass the rector, Fr. Peter Harmon, invited us for a celebratory drink and snacks - which were certainly welcomed following the Paschal Fast.
Sunday morning we changed our clocks for daylight savings time (yes, I know you did it a few weeks ago in the U.S. - but Europe was just this past weekend). Fortunately we had nothing until 12noon - Mass at the Casa Santa Maria - the house (near Trevi Fountain) where many of the U.S. priests studying in Rome live.
Before heading over to the "Casa" - I took some time to observe ALL the people streaming toward St. Peter's Square for the Easter Sunday Mass with the Holy Father and the Urbi et Orbi address. I took the opportunity to walk over toward St. Peter's so that I could see the crowd and take some photos:
Then we walked over to the "Casa" for the celebration of Mass for Easter Sunday. Another nice celebration - but again - strange for me. Here in Rome, the seminarians & priests have vacation all this week (as the schools all close for the Easter Holy Days) - meaning that most of the many men who live here were off traveling somewhere for the Easter break. So the Cardinal presided at Mass with only about 8 priest and 4 Dominican Sisters. The Cardinal had asked me to preach - an honor - and they said I did I nice job - I'm sure something different from what they are used to...
Following Mass we had a wonderful Pranzo (lunch) there at the Casa - then home, a NAP - and dinner with Deacon Brian Kuchinski - one of our Harrisburg seminarians - who stayed around during the Easter break to get some work done.
A beautiful Easter Sunday here in Rome.