When you work in the church biz, holy week is busy. People like to ask- “which is busiest, Christmas or Easter?”
They are both busy times, but Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Day is pretty darn crazy.
For many years I coordinated services for a Catholic parish. It was exhausting, but the end result made all worthwhile.
When my son’s were younger, they were altar servers. They were really good: serious, attentive and excellent at picking up hand signals from both Mom and priest. Holy Week was their time to shine.
When Holy Week rolls around I miss them more than usual. I miss working with them, and their hilarious comments about the quirky things that happened during the service. One son hated being on water basin duty for the Holy Thursday foot washing. The pieces of lint floating in the used water grossed him out. The other son begged to be on “wipe” duty on Good Friday. His job was to wipe the wooden cross after each kiss. He prided himself on staying alert and watching exactly where the person’s lips touched the wood, then he would wipe throughly- he especially liked wiping off lipstick.
Then they both were old enough to serve the biggest night of the year- the Easter Vigil. This service lasted several hours, and began outside at sunset with the lighting of a very large Paschal candle. The strongest and tallest of the servers got this duty, because that candle weighed closed to twenty pounds. The year my oldest carried the candle the priest tipped the candle and dripped hot wax on my 15 year old son’s hands. He never faltered, but he had light burns on the back of his hand. They wiped up water on the tile after the baptism with towels, secretly pretending they were wiping up the basketball court during a game.
After all the serious work, we would go get ice cream or some fast food. We talked and laughed and shared stories.
The memories came flooding back as I set up the church for the weekend. Different experience, but I miss sharing it with my sons.