By Matthew Biddle
In our family, the celebration of Easter revolves around participation in the life of the Church, as we join with our parish community on the journey towards Christ’s resurrection.
Personally, I’ve always sought to attend as many of the Easter ceremonies as possible, to fully immerse myself in Holy Week and to give me an opportunity to reflect upon the mysteries of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
It can be tiring: Holy Thursday evening Mass, often followed by adoration; Stations of the Cross, and later, the Veneration of the Cross, on Good Friday; the Easter Vigil Mass; and/or Easter Sunday Mass.
As a lifelong Catholic, this has been my experience of Easter every year – initially with my own parents and siblings, now with my wife and children.
For my family, the parish community is a significant part of our social and spiritual life. We are edified by the example of other parents who bring their large families to Mass. Our children are edified by the example of other children who attentively participate in the Mass.
But in 2020, Easter was different.
Our regional parish of The Rock, located in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, was forced to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, in the middle of Lent. The journey towards Easter suddenly stopped.
Like many people around the country, we took part in the Easter ceremonies via a projector screen at home. Our parish is home to a vibrant, growing community, filled with families and lots of young children. Sadly, we were unable to share in the Easter joy with our fellow parishioners in 2020.
This year, with restrictions eased significantly, we are greatly looking forward to once again being able to attend the Easter ceremonies with our parish community.
There’s no doubt that Easter with a growing, young family can be challenging, to say the least. Trying to keep five children under the age of eight quiet during the Easter ceremonies often feels like a form of penance in itself. The length and timing of the Easter Triduum ceremonies can result in children missing out on their regular naps, leaving them grumpy and over-tired.
But if I’ve ever questioned whether it was all worth it, those questions are now long gone.
This year, with a renewed gratitude for being able to attend Mass with our local parishioners, our family will do everything we can to attend as many of the Easter ceremonies as possible. To be able to once again share the journey towards Easter with our parish community will be a cause of great joy – for us, and for many others.
Seeing the faces of our fellow parishioners, sharing in joyful conversation with other parents, witnessing the playfulness of the young children in the parish after Mass – all of these experiences will once again form part of our Easter celebrations. And after a year of missing out on these experiences, this year, Easter will be like no other.
Matthew Biddle is the Digital Engagement Officer for the National Centre for Evangelisation.