Today is basically my last day off for two weeks. While most Catholics, practicing ones that is, enter into Holy Week hopefully with a sense of prayerful quiet reflection on the passion and death of our Lord, for those of us who do parish work it is anything but quiet and reflective.
Holy Week is my busiest time of the year. There are liturgies to coordinate, worship aides to compile and print, discussions with priests, musicians and other liturgical ministers, rehearsals, and last minute preparations to contend with. I am stressed with still looking for people to have their feet washed on Holy Thursday (not sure why so many say "no" to this). The revised texts of the Mass are making this year's Triduum a bit more challenging, not to mention that we are doing some lighting renovations on the church which hopefully will be finished before the Triduum and that I learn how to work the light before the Vigil. Things get crazy this week.
The days of the Triduum will find me working from early morning until evening. As far as Easter Sunday goes, I come home and crash while everyone else is enjoying a great dinner that I, thank God, don't have to cook. To add to the intensity of the week, I have the first installment of a book due on the 15th, along with my taxes which are not done yet.
Despite all this, which might seem like insanity to those who are not responsible for some aspect of parish liturgy, I do love this time of year. It is an immersion into the Paschal Mystery. While I can't sit in the pew as part of the assembly without thinking about what needs to be done next or what I forgot, or what is going wrong, I know that what I do, in some small way, helps others to experience Christ. But it also helps me to realize my own connection to Jesus.
Jesus had a mission in life, to bring souls into union with Him and with His Father. It was hard work, but He did it out of obedience and out of Love. During His Passion, Jesus did not rest. He was pushed by His persecutors to utter exhaustion, and He still continued for the sake of those He loved, for us. My experience of the Triduum is knowing that what I am doing is out of Love for Christ and for His people.
I do get a few moments of respite during these days, and one in particular that I wouldn't trade for anything. Sometime on Holy Saturday afternoon, after confessions are over and the flowers are set up, after the volunteers who help decorate the church are gone, after the things are organized in the sacristy, after the wood for the fire is ready and everyone has left the church, I usually find myself alone. I turn the lights down low, sit in the third pew on the center aisle, and looking at all that has been made ready, I have my Triduum experience. I never timed how long I sit and there are no particular prayers I say or things I do. I simply sit in vigil, watching and waiting for the Resurrection. And for that time, in that place, I am with God, and all the busyness of this week is worth it.