March 31, 2013 by Alex Johannigman
Last night was an Easter Vigil to remember, and not just because we used so much incense that it caused the smoke detector to panic and go off right as we were beginning the rite of baptism. This past year I embarked on a new adventure as an RCIA sponsor for my friend Heath who I had only met about a month or two before I found out he needed a sponsor.
For those who aren’t familiar with the process, RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It’s the process that anyone who wants to become Catholic as an adult goes through before being confirmed, baptized and receiving first communion and reconciliation as needed, since many converts come from Christian faiths where they were already baptized. Candidates (converts from other Christian faiths) and catechumans (receiving all the sacraments) take classes weekly to learn about the Catholic faith, and also participate in longer retreat-type meetings along the way to grow spiritually. Being able to accompany Heath and others along the way taught me a lot about my faith and also reminded me of why I’m so in love with it in the first place.
Despite all of that, I still don’t think I could have been completely prepared for how beautiful this Easter Vigil was going to be for me. Witnessing the radical change taking place in the lives of the friends that I had made over the past several months was incredible, and seeing the culmination of that during Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion at the vigil was amazing. I got to stand directly behind my friend as he received the body and blood of Christ for the first time, and witness how much that probably meant to him and be reminded of how much it should mean to all of us when we receive it at mass every week (or more often than that if you’re one of those cool kids who enjoys daily mass).
The other thing that stuck me about Easter this year is the joy that the resurrection of Christ brings and should bring to us all. For most of my life, Easter was a day when we went to church, ate eggs and donuts, and went Easter egg hunting before spending the rest of the day munching on chocolate until we felt sick.
This year I witnessed in a more profound way than ever the joy that comes with the resurrection by throwing an all night resurrection party at my house from the end of the vigil mass until dawn. Over 50 people showed up throughout the night to dance, eat, drink, play games, talk, meet new people… and praise God. Two of my roommates led praise and worship in our garage around 2am and it was so loud that I was worried we’d get the cops called on us. The garage was packed with at least 30-40 people singing praises to God and celebrating Christ’s resurrection. There was joy in our house last night that was absolutely contagious.
So remember folks, it’s Easter. Celebrate. The greatest miracle of all time happened and Christ rose from the dead so that he can bring us all home with him to heaven. It’s supposed to be a happy occasion!