Category Archives: Easter

Easter from King’s (and from St. Bernard’s)

On this second consecutive Easter spent keeping our distance from others, Seth and I, we traveled via Britbox on Holy Saturday Night for an Easter Vigil of our own through a BBC program called Easter from King’s, the King’s being King’s Chapel, Cambridge. Kind of like the Nine Lessons and Carols each Christmas from King’s Chapel, only this is Easter, and this program takes us through Holy Week, ending in the triumph of Easter Sunday.

I got to hear the Pange Lingua, but in English, which is not the same as hearing it or singing it in Latin (especially when it comes to the “genitore, genitoque” part). And still the song I expected to hear never came. Can you guess the one? It is “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” the grand centuries-old hymn we hear at almost every traditional Easter service, usually at the end, to close the Mass. It had its heyday in the 1700s, when it was translated into English, but remains to this day perhaps the most recognized hymn of Easter… and perhaps that was its downfall tonight––maybe it was just too pedestrian for Easter from King’s.

Be that as it may, our Lenten journey is over and Eastertide is here. And while I never got “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” from the choristers at King’s Chapel, I do come bearing an Easter gift of my own that does deliver the hymn, in its own way: It’s a Convivio Dispatch from Lake Worth from a few years back, one of our most popular Dispatches ever. The scene is Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday Night––one of the most beautiful ceremonies you’ll witness, to be sure, but a marathon event and a true test of stamina, not for the weak of spirit or of strength. Father Seamus was there, as was Sister Kathleen, the Reluctant Organist. And I was there, too. And when you’re done reading the Dispatch, watch the clip of the choristers at King’s Chapel below it. Their singing is a thing of beauty, and it is easy to imagine oneself somewhat closer to God through their collective voice. Happy Easter.


Holy Saturday Night

It’s Holy Saturday, the night that officially closes the somber and reflective week known as Holy Week. We Catholics cap it off with the hours-long Easter Vigil Mass, a test of will for anyone, to be sure. But it is this Mass that is the high point of the liturgical year, a grand spectacle to usher in the miracle of Easter.

Tonight’s long Easter Vigil Mass at St. Bernard’s lacked a little something, though, and the general sense was that this year’s transition from Darkness to Light, from Somber to Joy, from Death to Life, was not quite as dramatic as it was in years past. And we can all pretty much place this sense of inadequacy on the statue of the Risen Lord at the back of the church. The concept each year is the same: We begin after sunset in a dark chuch, and once the good news is proclaimed, the lights and the organ grow gradually brighter and louder, while the bells ring triumphantly, as all the marble statues are released from the purple shrouds that have covered them since Holy Thursday.

But the statue of the Risen Lord, which hangs some four feet above the doorway opposite the altar, is perhaps better known amongst the congregation as the Statue That Fell Upon the Head of the Usher, which happened as the unfortunate man was using a pole to release it from its purple shroud on another Easter Vigil night, three or four years ago. It’s happened just that one time, but still, the ushers grow increasingly timid with each passing year, and what used to be done with great zeal and flourish is now done rather gingerly and with palpable fear. The lights are all on and Sister Kathleen, the reluctant organist, has gone well past crescendo and so has no choice but to settle into quiet notes––notes that feel a bit like they’ve worn their welcome––and Father Seamus watches and prays from the altar, and the congregation turns and winces and looks away because they don’t want to watch what’s happening with the pole and the purple cloth but they turn again to watch anyway, lest they miss what might happen if it happens, and there is more wincing, and then finally one usher goes in for a folding chair, one of the chairs behind the back pew for the potential overflow Easter crowd. He gets the chair to stand on it, so as to have more control over the situation, or perhaps to lessen the blow should the statue fall again by reducing the distance and velocity it would travel downward toward his head––but then he hesitates, too, and Sister Kathleen by now just flat out stops playing as the air grows heavier and heavier. Finally the other ushers just gather together and go for it in a great show of Christian strength and solidarity. They push the pole up under the purple cloak and lift it from the head of Christ and the statue rocks back and forth on its hook and there is, from somewhere in the pews, an audible gasp.

But the statue of the Risen Lord settles down again, and all is well for another year, no ushers are in need of stitches, none have been clobbered into unconsciousness.

Jesus Christ is risen today!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And the ushers are all okay!

Video Clip: – © copyright 2021 BBC

It’s a Sale!

It’s pretty rare Convivio Bookworks runs a sale, but we won’t be popping up this spring at pop-up markets, and here we are with all these wonderful Ukrainian pysanky eggs that just arrived, and all those beautiful handmade sturdy paper egg containers from Germany (great places to stash your jelly beans and malted eggs). We also have cards you’re not likely to find elsewhere for Ramadan, and there’s a brand new Swedish maypole decoration for Midsummer, and these fine handmade artisan goods are not going to do anyone any good sitting in our little house ’til next year. So we’re giving you 15% everything in our Spring & Summer collection, 15% off all of our Ramadan cards from Manal Aman of Hello Holy Days! fame, and while we’re at it, since soap is so important right now, 15% off all of our handmade soaps from local soap maker Kelly Sullivan and from Brother Andrew at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine (as well as their delightful new culinary lavender that’s in a brown paper bag tied up with string).

Click here to get to the Convivio Book of Days Catalog; use code SPRING15 when you check out. Plus we’ll give you FREE SHIPPING on domestic orders when you spend $50. (And our flat rate shipping is only $8.50 if you don’t spend $50.) We ship Priority Mail so you’ll have your order in time for Easter. If you’re in Lake Worth Beach, let us know and we’ll deliver your order to your front porch for free no matter how much you spend (we’ll deduct the shipping charge if you spend less than $50).

Your orders support what may just be the smallest company on the planet, as well as all the artisans we buy from… most of them are folks we know by name. That support is greatly appreciated at times like this, so thank you.

Easter at St. Bernard’s

Here’s a story I wrote many years ago, when I had aspirations to be a different sort of writer than the one I became. The memory of it popped into my head on Saturday as I was raking hay in the garden, and later I found the typed manuscript pasted into a journal from 1993. Ann Peyton, my teacher, thought it was ok back then, and I read it on Holy Saturday night these 26 years later and thought, well, a little polishing up and it might be even better. Here it is. Happy Easter. –– John

On the morning of Easter Sunday, there is an egg hunt on the grounds of St. Bernard’s. It is an annual event, always directly after the 9 AM mass: screaming children scurrying, adults on the sidelines, Father Fred directing and guiding, his black vestments down to his black shoes, floating above the green grass.

This year, before mass is over, and after the Egg Hunt Committee of the St. Bernard’s Women’s Club has all the eggs hidden––some in easy plain-as-day flat-out-middle-of-the-lawn spots, others in more difficult spots (like the purple one hidden inside the bottom of a rain gutter)––well, somewhere in the midst of this a raccoon comes on the scene, steals a yellow egg from the exposed roots of a large banyan tree, shimmies beneath the shrubbery and devours his prize. This is true. I saw it happen.

He wore a blue jacket. Large brass buttons. Nothing else, of course. Maybe it’s the tail situation––I couldn’t tell you, really––but animals never wear trousers. Not in stories like this, anyway.

So this raccoon eats this stolen yellow egg, taking great care not to spoil his blue jacket, and he is amazed to see, out of the corner of his eye, another egg, a bluish-green color, right there beside him under the shrubbery.

“No way!” he says, and he swaggers up to it and devours this one, as well. He belches once or twice and rolls onto his back in that delightful sated feeling that comes after a good meal. He is contemplating sleep, rolling to his side. There is another yellow egg ahead of him on the grass. His eyes widen. He jumps to his feet, runs and grabs the yellow egg, thinks, “I will save this for later,” then scurries toward the wood past the sanctuary of Mary, Mother of God.

There is a red egg at her feet and this raccoon, he cannot believe his incredible good fortune. He drops the yellow egg, takes the red one instead, and runs for the wood. His belly aches a little but he runs anyway with his red egg and blue jacket with brass buttons. He jumps into a rotted old tree. Home.

“You guys! You will not believe this. Look!” He shows the other raccoons in the rotted old tree the red egg. “It’s like, raining eggs out there. They’re everywhere! Hundreds, maybe thousands! Eggs just… everywhere! Yellow ones blue ones red ones, green ones, too! And they are…” (he sucks in some air) “…everywhere.”

Naturally, this news gets all the other raccoons pretty worked up and soon there’s a clamor going through the rotted old tree and through the whole neighborhood: raccoons jumping out of morning naps, scurrying into jackets and overcoats and running outside to see this great event: colored eggs falling from the sky. They process through the wood and toward the grounds of St. Bernard’s.

Now, at about the time that the raccoon in the blue jacket with brass buttons had picked up the red egg at the foot of Mary, Mother of God, Father Fred was blessing the congregation and saying, “The mass is over. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” And the congregation said, “Thanks be to God,” and the organist began a triumphant tune and the children were suddenly reborn and they jumped up and grabbed their baskets and took moms and dads by the hands and ran to the church lawn. And Father Fred took his place at the center of the lawn with his black shoes sunken in the green grass and his black vestments floating above them. He yelled GO! and the screaming children blasted out from all sides. They dove and slid and colored eggs were scooped up right and left up and down here and there and the whole thing was over in seconds. The colored eggs at the grounds of St. Bernard’s were gone in three blinks of an eye. Father Fred gave jelly beans to the children and the ones he liked got pats on the head, as well. Then the congregation rushed off, saying “Happy Easter,” “Goodbye,” “Dinner’s at 4,” and Father Fred went back to the church to prepare for the mass at noon.

The grounds of St. Bernard’s were deserted when the entourage of jacketed raccoons arrived to delve into the multitude of colored eggs that been sent from on high. They burst from the wood smacking their lips and sniffing the air and dusting the sleeves of their jackets. They looked around, expecting piles of blue eggs, yellow eggs, red eggs and green ones, too. But there were none.

The raccoon in the blue jacket with the brass buttons was in a panic. “I… I don’t understand. I ate two eggs, I did. I found them here, in the grass. I even left one––a yellow one––here, by the pretty stone lady.”

The other raccoons grumbled amongst themselves. They were rather upset and raccoons don’t hesitate to show their displeasure, you know. They were grumbling and turning away, hissing at the poor little fellow and making obscene gestures as they passed. And the raccoon with the blue jacket and brass buttons was left alone at the foot of Mary, Mother of God, sobbing and quite shaken. He was very embarrassed. I know. I saw the whole thing. I would have been embarrassed, too.

But don’t feel bad. Raccoons are resilient creatures. As it turns out, he’s found the purple egg that was hidden at the bottom of the rain gutter. I never would have thought to look there and apparently none of those children thought of it, either. But the raccoon with the blue jacket and brass buttons has found it. He devours it, taking care not to spoil his jacket. Then he scurries off, into the wood.


Image: Even bunnies wear blue jackets with brass buttons. This is one of the handmade paper eggs from Germany that we sell at the Convivio Book of Days Catalog. Happy Easter!