Right, I'm back, and here's what I would have been saying if I'd been here...
First and foremost - a huge welcome to our new brothers and sisters in Christ who were welcomed into the Church this weekend. I haven't had time to do much reading since I got back a couple of hours ago, but Jen has some fantastic posts about her experiences over the weekend - I couldn't just single out one to link to, because it's all so good, but do read back at least as far as her first Confession (continued here), which brought tears to my eyes.
I celebrated the Triduum in three different churches - Maundy Thursday Mass in my own (geographical) parish, Good Friday in the church on the hill and the Easter Vigil in my parents' parish.
This was a real departure for me - the last several years, I was responsible for selecting the music in my old parish and helping with the choir. I pretty much knew what was going to happen and when, and the beauty and the frustrations were the same every year. And what with choir practices and the fact that a huge parish and a packed church meant that each Mass was extra long, I seemed to spend most of Holy Week in church.
My old parish was huge, vibrant and very multicultural. Every year at the Easter Vigil Mass we had at least 25 people being baptised or received into the Church. One of the frustrations was that the font was underneath the choir loft, so that we couldn't see (or hear properly) what was happening, but I loved being part of the celebration.
I was a little bit sad that we didn't welcome any new Catholics into our midst in my parents' parish this Easter - but since I was holding a slumbering two-year-old niece throughout the Mass, I suppose I was a little bit grateful that it meant we weren't in church for as long as I have been the last few Easters.
One thing that surprised me on Good Friday was that once again, during the reading of the Passion, nobody knelt as we reached the moment of Jesus' death - and the reader didn't even pause. Is this something new? I can't remember ever having heard the story of the Passion without pausing and kneeling to pray at that point, and yet in the last week it has happened twice, in two different (though contiguous) parishes.
The weather has been gorgeous this weekend, one of my brothers brought a girlfriend home for the first time, my prodigal sister was briefly back from her prolonged trip round Europe and spent the weekend with us, my niece found her bodyweight in chocolate eggs hidden around the house, the roads were relatively clear at the times I was travelling, and the car didn't let me down.
A great weekend - and I hope yours was too.