I figured out today the relationship between the people who nearly fill the church for the Easter Vigil on Saturday night and the crowd that does fill the church on Easter Sunday. On a Venn diagram they would overlap, about half of of the population occupying both circles. The Vigil crowd consists mostly of the hardcore St. Michael's parishioners, the people who attend most of the major holy days, who know that they're signing on for a very long Mass, but do it because they know how special it is, and truly want to be there. About half of them also show up on Easter morning. The other half, knowing that they've already attended one Easter service, leave the Sunday Mass to the remaining regulars, the semi-regulars, and what Father Douglas once called the CEOs - Christmas and Easter Only.
Toni Sue, our verger, greets my friend Eva,
who will be 101 years old in May.
who will be 101 years old in May.
I was scheduled to be crucifer today, and besides, I'd promised to give Eva a ride to church. No Easter morning lie-in for me! I don't regret it, even though I only had four hours of sleep last night. Some years the Easter morning Mass is almost a rerun, but not this year. It was a different sermon, and there was different music: a little Bach, and little Beethoven, and (mostly) Mozart! Organist and choir director Jane Haman conducted not just the choir, which tends to swell in size for holiday programs, but also what I guess might be called a chamber orchestra: strings, brass and timpani.
Easter morning is typically when babies are baptized, as opposed to older children and adults. This morning there was a toddler and a kindergartener. The toddler sucked her pacifier and nodded in preparation for each dousing at the baptismal font - not as if trying to avoid it, but as if cooperating. I make no claims that the little girl had a clue what was going on, but she didn't cry, didn't protest. And what a cutie she was!
Now I'd like to respond briefly to what Paul said in his comment about "indoctrination" by baptism, and about there being something very wrong if I get sick on Good Friday. I talked a little bit to the kid, perhaps ten years old, who was baptized last night. Toni Sue, who was herself baptized just last year, chatted with him and his dad for quite a while last night, and previously as well. The kid, Jason, was the very definition of irrepressible. He asked questions during the liturgy, and volunteered his opinions to anyone in range, before, during and after his baptism. There is no way he was merely doing what he was told, what his dad wanted him to do. He made the choice himself, and I think he had the right to do that.
The larger question is, does baptism--of a baby, a child, an adult--do any harm? Is there a reason to try to prevent it? Unless it's done under true duress, or as part of a cult that teaches people to worship some human maniac or suffer or cause some serious harm, I'd say the answer is no. If baptism confers the Holy Spirit, it surely is beneficial to the person, and to the world. If it does not, then the person just gets wet. As for indoctrination, Jason is in danger of learning that there's at least one parish in Tucson (probably many more than one) where the people are friendly and welcoming, and care about human rights and tolerance. He'll be exposed to such dangerous ideas as helping displaced Guatamalans set up medical facilities, saving illegal immigrants from imminent death, helping African refugees find a new home half a world away, and on and on. And oh, yeah: they also believe in Jesus, loving their neighbor and stuff like that. If Jason later decides that those aren't values he wishes to hold, he will be making an informed decision about it. The alternative to allowing the baptism of babies and children is to abridge the first amendment in a major way. As much as religion troubles him as illogical and potentially harmful, I doubt that Paul is in favor of going that far.
As for my digestive inconveniences of the past four or five days, I hope I made it clear that religious concerns are, at most, a contributing factor. I had the taxes to do this weekend, and I needed to go make up a couple of hours at work--and never got there. I'm fussing with two diuretics and cominations of minerals, feel perpetually guilty about diet and exercise, no longer have a gall bladder, and have chronic IBS. Trust me, Paul, giving up religion would not have helped my discomfort this weekend. It would only have stressed me out more.
But enough. I really hate wrangling about religion. I hate debate and strife and confrontation of any sort. So I'll leave you tonight with a nice little bit of cat blogging from someone who is terribly allergic to cats. John spotted this kitty in the next block early this evening, sitting near a cast iron cat sculpture. He turned the car around so I could take pictures. The cat got up from the sidewalk and lay down at the edge of the road, meowing at me. I meowed back, and took the shots. Here's one of them.