Easter was amazing this year.  It is every year, but this year even more so.  I get goosebumps just recalling.  The stations of the cross captivated me each time instead of being just words and responses.  The children sang the chaplet of the Divine Mercy and I had a lump in my throat.  The washing of the feet on Holy Thursday seemed more significant.  It didn't even matter that it was late and children were restless.  I was just happy to be there, because I wanted to be, not because I thought I should be. 

The church was especially empty on Good Friday and even though I've been in church many Good Fridays before, this time I could feel the difference.  Even with the sun shining it's rays through the windows to cast glows on everything, it was still dark and cold...like it was simply a building.  Frightening almost.  I couldn't help but think about how fortunate we are that we can openly worship.  What would it be like if we had to hide the Eucharist?  It was a somber day.

Saturday, knowing of course that the day would progress and bring a glorious celebration, was just that...glorious.  I realize I may sound really cheesy or even superficial, but trust me, my excitement and anticipation was real.  The church in appearance is so different from Friday night to Saturday night.  The Easter Vigil is the height of the church year when the light and the water are blessed and renewed, just as our salvation was with Christ's ressurection.  I wish I would've snapped pictures, but I'm still feeling a little timid about the whole thing.  While the sanctuary is restored to its normal appearance with everything unveiled, candles returned, flowers surrounding the altar, we start in the dark and the new baptismal candle is lit, followed by additional candles, once again filling the church with light.  Jesus is returned to the tabernacle and we sing Alleluia! 

I did manage to snap a quick picture at the end of Mass.  While the contrast may not be as evident in pictures, in person it is consuming.

The Vigil doesn't begin until 8:30 (so it is dark when we start) and it is usually around 10:30 when it is done, so one would think the logical thing to do would be to go home and go to bed. Not us. We've been anticipating this for over 40 days now! It has amazed me how in the last several years since we've decided to attend the vigil as a family that despite it being well past bedtime for the kids, they do great! We returned home to celebrate with a meal, the box of chocolates that were given to us as a gift from the CK Sisters and a toast to our Redeemer.

The next morning, the kids woke up...surprisingly not groggy...ok, well maybe a little...to find their Easter baskets.  I remember the joy as a child of having a basket on Easter morning filled with candy and gifts.  We enjoy offering that same thing to our children.  Once worried about sending a conflicting message to them about the importance of Christmas and Easter, I am completely comfortable with offering them material things as part of our celebration of Jesus' birth and ressurection.  This is not an every day thing and I'm confident that they're getting more than Santa and the Easter Bunny.  :)

Easter morning was absolutely beautiful.  The sunshine was brilliant from the moment it began to rise, and while the clouds rolled in quickly, it was as if our greeting was God's way of confirming that all is well. 

 With hats...

...and without.  :)  Still trying to figure out how you get everyone to smile real smiles at the same time!

Easter egg hunt at Grandma A's.

Cousins (missing 5 of them)

And we continue to celebrate, because just as Christmas isn't just one day, Easter too is a season!  We have much to rejoice about!!

happy Easter!!