Pascha came early for me on Holy Thursday as my toddler proclaimed the Paschal greeting, “Christ is Risen!”
After disengaging from the life of the Church for several years and simply going through the motions, I was eager for Lent. I was ready to worship and pray in community, longing for Christ. Matthew is almost three, but after a few unsettled years, it felt in some ways like his first Holy Week. I was excited to share our beautiful traditions with both our children.
As it became clear how different Pascha and Holy Week would be, I grieved that Matthew and Emma would not experience the Pascha vigil this year…the candles illuminating the dark church, the cold procession, the Resurrection gospel, the joyous singing of “Christ is Risen” as the bells ring. I chastised myself for minimal participation the past few years, for not realizing the precious gift of the Church until I felt its absence. Fighting frustration, anxiety and a sense of isolation, I fumbled through the resources for Holy Week at home, determined, despite fear and darkness, to mark the days as holy.
Matthew has been playing priest for several months, so on Thursday, when we made candles and sang, “Christ is Risen,” I was not surprised that he put his robe on and started censing with a baby toy. I was stunned, though, when he held his candle high and announced “Christ is Risen!” He must have remembered from the previous year. The grace and goodness of God, present even when my faith faltered, humbled me. Far from his first Pascha, the joy of the Resurrection was inside Matthew. Truly, out of the mouths of babes He has perfected praise. For a few minutes, as Matthew’s censing and singing filled the house, I could only compare my joy to the Pascha liturgy, present, real, invading my messy home and my anxious heart with the good news that Christ is Risen.
By Courtney Korban