The night was cold, the stars shone brightly in the sky and one-by-one they made their way outside. Many were young, looking with wide eyes and hope to the future, others were not. Others feebly grasped the railings, painfully making their way down the stairs and toward the fire as they had for decades, but this time with a different understanding of the future and a different hope in the Resurrection. Saturday evening I joined the faithful of Saint Marie Parish for the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass, but this year from a different perspective.
I pondered detailing the many facets of the night, the stresses for a seminarian altar server and the beauties witnessed as the evening unfolded. However, in the end I will share with you only one.
When it came time for the distribution of Holy Communion I was assigned to the back of the crowded church. As I quietly made my way back, the line formed and I began my duty, sharing the Body of Christ with the faithful. One-by-one people came forward, hands outstretched to receive God, and one-by-one they left. It was not until I was near the end of the line that I looked up and saw a young man, no more than five, with his mother. He tightly grasped her hand all the while reaching forward, head held high. As I looked out again I realized he was not holding his mother’s hand he was being led. The little boy was not looking up, he was turning his head from side to side so that he could experience the Mass in the only way he could, he was blind. As the young boy made his way forward I paused to make the sign of the cross on his forehead, but before I could, he uttered the words Alleluia, Alleluia. His words were not prompted, nor memorized, they are words spoken in a voice I will never forget. They are words that were spoken with true joy, words spoken from the heart, words that rejoiced truly in the resurrection of Christ which we celebrated that night.
There in the back of the Church, as I held the Body of Christ, a young boy who has never seen the light of day, recognized the light of Christ. In the midst of the Church’s great celebration, which symbolically begins in darkness and ends in light, within a five year old’s heart was a faith and understanding that one hundred years of theological study could never give me. His world, that knows no light, knew the Light. Before the Body of Christ he rejoiced for he knew that he was in the presence of the Lord, a presence that he understood in a much more profound way than I will ever. Happy Easter!