Friday, March 11, 2016

Should Catholics Attend Easter Egg Hunts on Holy Saturday?

Mailbag time!

The Question:
Hi, Kendra! Thanks so much for your blog. I was hoping you could offer some advice on a question regarding living out the liturgical year with young kids. Our parish Easter egg hunt is scheduled for Holy Saturday morning and I don't know whether my toddler and preschooler should participate. On the one hand, I don't want to celebrate Easter before its time, especially since this is the first year I've introduced the concept of Lent to my preschooler. On the other hand, I don't want to become isolated from my parish community by being overly rigid about such things. (From my observations as a fairly new parishioner, I'm going to have to make this sort of decision a lot!)

Thanks! Meredith
Descent of Christ to Hell/Limbo - by ANDREA DA FIRENZE - from Cappella Spagnuolo, Santa Maria Novella, Florence               (Easter eggs added by me. ;)

The Answer:


I've totally been there, with just the concerns you expressed. And when my oldest kids were little, I'm pretty sure we did attend an egg hunt or two on Holy Saturday.

I know that what works for my family isn't necessarily what works for all families, and that God speaks to us in different ways. The Catholic Church is a universal church and there is a wide latitude extended to us, the faithful, on how we can celebrate feasts and fasts.

In the absence of an official Catholic teaching on a particular issue like this one, good Catholics are free to disagree.

But for our family, now that we make a point of observing Lent, and make the liturgical year a part of our home life, I feel very strongly against participating in an Easter egg hunt on Holy Saturday. ESPECIALLY at a Catholic parish.

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday, on the Vatican website:
"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled."

A great silence. That's what Holy Saturday is. A day of preparation and longing.

Fasting is encouraged (but not required).

Paschales Solemnitatis, the main document governing the celebration of Easter, tells us:
73. On Holy Saturday the Church is, as it were, at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting.

It is highly recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people (cf. n. 40).

Where this cannot be done, there should be some celebration of the Word of God, or some act of devotion suited to the mystery celebrated this day.

74. The image of Christ crucified or lying in the tomb, or the descent into hell, which mystery Holy Saturday recalls, as also an image of the sorrowful Virgin Mary can be placed in the church for the veneration of the faithful.
We are "at the Lord's Tomb, meditating on his passion and death." I cannot see how we can do that while popping jelly beans and sitting for photos with a giant bunny at an Easter egg hunt. I'm sure my children couldn't. I'm sure *I* couldn't.

Catholics aren't to celebrate ANYTHING on Holy Saturday, not even the sacraments. 

Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the only two days of the whole year when it's forbidden to celebrate marriages and baptisms except in danger of death. We don't even celebrate the Mass or consecrate the Eucharist. If hosts are distributed on those days, they were consecrated on Holy Thursday. Church bells do not ring. Altars are bare.

Paschales Solemnitatis says:
75. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass.

Holy Communion may only be given in the form of Viaticum.

The celebration of marriages is forbidden, as also the celebration of other sacraments, except those of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick.
Update: thanks to Amanda for pointing out that this directive was changed in 1955. Still no Mass, no concecration, but Holy Communion can be offered.

It just seems unreasonable for a Catholic parish to choose that one day of all days to host an Easter egg hunt. Especially since there are FIFTY DAYS OF EASTERTIDE! FIFTY DAYS! FIFTY!

I'm sorry, was I shouting? Allow me to compose myself.

I understand that stores only care about the lead up to a holiday, because all they want is to sell you stuff. But as Catholics, in our places of worship, the lead up to Easter and Easter itself are very distinct seasons. It's no more appropriate to offer an Easter Egg hunt on Holy Saturday, as it would be to offer the Stations of the Cross on Easter Sunday. I don't mean to be too hard on parish liturgical committee members. I'm sure that all they want is to create community and fun and not interfere with family Easter celebrations. But for every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season . . .

Easter is a season. Any moment between the Easter Vigil and close of business on Pentecost would be just perfect for an Easter egg hunt.

From Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:
22. The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one "great Sunday." These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.

23. The Sundays of this time of year are considered to be Sundays of Easter and are called, after Easter Sunday itself, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday.
Joy and exultation! One great Sunday!

Even more, Easter is an Octave, so each day from the first Sunday of Easter to the Second Sunday of Easter IS ACTUALLY EASTER. Each day of that week is a Solemnity:
24. The first eight days of Easter Time constitute the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord.
The Saturday AFTER Easter is . . . Easter. Let's have Easter Egg hunts on Easter. Any of the eight days of Easter!

My kids know that we don't attend egg hunts on Holy Saturday. In our house, we dye Easter eggs, we tidy and decorate the house, we prepare our Easter meal. Some of the kids get to stay up late for the vigil.

We explain to them why, and they get it. If they notice an Easter egg hunt scheduled on Holy Saturday, we laugh with the little kids over how silly that is, and we (with charity) remind the big kids of the important reasons we wouldn't participate. We present it to them as part of our family culture, as a thing that makes us awesome. We are trying to do it right, that's why we do it our way. We are not going to celebrate Easter Sunday on Holy Saturday, but we ARE going to celebrate it for the whole of Eastertide. That's something they can support. We leave the plastic eggs out the whole time and let the kids hide them for each other again and again. It's a whole thing. They sometimes even put their Easter candy in there all over again.

So, tl:dr version: My family doesn't go to Easter egg hunts or any other celebrations on Holy Saturday, and, since you asked, I don't think you should either. But it's your call.


Here's more on how we observe Holy Week:

The "You Can Still Do This" Guide to All Things Holy Week


Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's Moving Day! -party horn emoji- dot dot dot -sobbing emoji-

Well, the day has finally arrived . . . moving day. Let's catch up on the goings on around here, shall we?


He absolutely insisted on getting TAPED into the box, and I was like, "Of course nawww . . . what am I thinking? Yes. Yes, I will tape you into that box," where he sat happily in the dark for a good half an hour. The dampness on the handle area is where Gus was handing him pineapple spears through the hole.


It has been a crazy week. I've been blogging less the past couple of months, in order to focus on the remodel of the new house and work on a couple partially completed writing projects that have been in the works for . . . years. And I was making a-bit-but-not-a-ton of progress on them, because packing/moving and remodeling decision-making/shopping is a gas. It expands to fill its container. Then, just when we were down to crunch time on the move, I was offered the chance to pitch a completely different book, that I had ALSO been meaning to write, but the completion level on that one was: Have-title-and-some-thoughts.

Great news, right?! Right. Very exciting. But the requested date for the proposal was March 1st. So, everything else came to a screeching halt while I hammered out an introduction, biography, annotated table of contents, sales pitch, and a 6,000 word sample chapter that was supposed to be 2,000 words. If it hadn't been leap year, I wouldn't have made it. But it IS Leap Year. So I DID make it.

The acquisitions editor accepted it with no revisions <phew>, and is going to advocate for it next week. So now we wait and see. With that out of the way, I was able to focus on packing and prep for the last couple of days, and the kids and the husband and the parents have all been hard at work. So, I think we're pretty well prepared. #famouslastwords


Speaking of Leap Year . . . if you're looking for a cheesy romcom perfect for Leap Year and/or St. Patrick's Day . . . the movie Leap Year is on Netflix now. I recommended it in my roundup of Irish movies last year, but last year it wasn't on Netflix, but now it is. 

Also on Netflix: Groundhog Day and Pee-wee's Big Adventure! The latter we watched as our family movie night on Sunday and the kids  L O V E D. Gus asked me, "Mom, do people think it's the best movie ever?" Um, probably? YOU seem to.

It holds up surprisingly well. Probably because the effects are meant to look cheesy to begin with. And Pee-wee's get-up hardly looks funny to today's eyes. It's like he was the original hipster in that fitted high-water suit. 


The other big project of the week was food prep. I have been concerned about my ability to feed us in the new house, more on that below, and I got it into my head that what I needed to do was just do ALL the cooking now for the six weeks until our kitchen will be done. The husband thought perhaps that was not a reasonable goal.

But once I have thought of something, I pretty much have to do it. So, I compromised and just did the cooking for a month.

I made 31 freezer to crockpot meals with recipes from Kelly at New Leaf Wellness. She is amazing and put all the recipes plus a shopping list into a free PDF. So cool. I'm very excited about it. I've done some meal prep-and-freeze before babies are born, but never on a scale like this. 

It took me pretty much an entire day, with breaks for feeding and putting kids down to bed, but I'm hoping it will really come in handy as I'm trying to do projects at the new house.


Okay . . . back to the move. This is happening.

Movers are coming today to move the furniture. We have already moved almost all the boxes ourselves, one load at a time in the big van.

Best comment on this photo on Instagram goes to Shannon of everyone's favorite chewable rosaries, who noted: "Contents may setting during shipping." Probably not, knowing these guys.


Gramblewood is NOT finished. But we knew it wouldn't be. 

What it has: New plumbing and electric, and, for the FIRST time, air conditioning, wifi (I hope. We haven't actually tried it yet), and outlets in the bathrooms (so novel). The new floor plan is in upstairs. Walls are moved, new bathrooms are installed, master bedroom ceiling is vaulted, walls are patched, most of the tile is done.

What it doesn't have: A kitchen, any doors or flooring upstairs, paint, any first floor renovations beyond plumbing/electric/HVAC.

How we're going to handle the above: My dad has spent the last couple of days setting up a makeshift kitchen for me in a little front room of the garage. I'll have laundry, a sink, two refrigerators, a cook top, a crock pot, and even some shelving and a counter top. It's much less of a kitchen than I have now, or will have in the future, but it's MUCH more than I was planning on having until my dad got ahold of the project. I have inherited my overdoing from him.

We are moving into the first floor while they finish the second floor. There are four bedrooms on the first floor, which will eventually become our TV room, playroom, school room, and guest room. But for now, they'll be the girls' room, boys' room, schoolroom/playroom/living room, and master bedroom. Once the second floor is done, we'll move up there while they work on the first floor.

Most of our stuff is going to stay in boxes in the garage until there's a place in which to unpack it.

It's not ideal in some respects, I know. But I'm actually looking forward to being there. There are a few projects that we are doing ourselves, like the painting and wall paper and furniture putting-together, and it will be easier to tackle that stuff from within.


Well. The practical part of me is looking forward to being there. The other part of me is wandering our current house, wistfully running my hand along the wall, staring off just past the camera, thinking of all the good times we had here. 

Seriously. Good. Times.

And it's orange blossom week in the back yard, which makes it even harder to imagine not living here. I have loved this house. I'm not sure I ever would have wanted to move if it weren't for Jack's school situation. 

I'm not a particularly sentimental person. Just ask my poor kids, who have learned not to ask me where something should go, because 90% of the time, I say, "in the trash." I think I was going to be able to leave just fine, but then Mary Jane was born IN OUR BATHTUB. And now I'm like, "How can I just move away from the most important bathtub in human history?" (Who gets that reference? Anyone?)

So, step one was the obligatory day-before-we-move in-the-bathtub-where-you-were-born photo-shoot:

And step two is this sweet bracelet, that a reader named Ginny sent me, so that I can always remember this exact spot in the world:

It has the latitude and longitude coordinates of the house, and on the inside, it has Mary Jane's name engraved. I plan to pass it along to Mary Jane when she grows up, but until then, probably she won't mind if I wear it. :)

Anyway, I really love it, and it's helping me detach.

I know you must also have a spot in the world that you want to carry with you, be it the home where your kids were born, or the spot where your husband proposed, or where you grew up, so I was really excited when Ginny offered to let one of you choose something from her shop as well. She makes all sorts of beautiful, personalized jewelry. 

One winner will get a $60 gift certificate to spend in the store. To win, just leave a comment on this post telling us what's the most important spot in the world to you. I'll announce the winner sometime next week, once the computer situation is sorted out at the new house.

Wish me luck! See you on the other side.