The period from the Triduum through Easter Sunday was probably the best in my decade of being Catholic. I can't really point to a concrete reason why -- Lent felt particularly long this year, and it wasn't because I undertook some crazy fasting regimen or something. In any event, I was very ready for Easter.
So, I found myself at the Vigil, trying my best not to become excited too early, but knowing that pure joy was right around the corner.
The Easter Vigil (and I mean the full-blown, candles everywhere, deacon-chanted-Exsultet, all-seven-Old-Testament-readings Easter Vigil) is the best. Seriously. Find me something better, I dare you. It has been made even more awesome by the new English translation of the Mass, which has made the text of the Exsultet so much better:
I think I might even prefer this to the Latin now (I am as surprised as you are, believe me).
Having done the Vigil for many years now, I knew that the serene joy that I get by holding a candle lit from the Paschal Candle and listening to the Exsultet is often lost during the next hour sitting in the dark listening to the rather lengthy Old Testament lessons. I just want to go straight in to the Gloria from the Exsultet! I was determined not to allow myself that letdown this year, so I threw myself (figuratively speaking) into the lessons and the psalms, absorbing all that I could of the wonderful salvation history proclaimed in these parts of Holy Scripture. I still became somewhat agitated by about the sixth lesson, but my annoyance was short-lived -- we soon began the Gloria and the organ pipes rang out with joy. Looking back, it does not make much sense that the Gloria should have brought me that much joy -- after all, we had just sung it and used the organ only two days prior on Holy Thursday. It isn't like we had done without these things for all of Lent. And yet, it felt as if I was singing the words for the first time in ages. My eyes brimmed with tears of joy as I exclaimed God's praises.
Easter Sunday was a whirlwind -- going to Mass as a family in the morning and heading off to sing at noon, with as much family time as possible squeezed in for the rest of the day. Mass on Easter Day brought yet another bit of liturgical awesomeness: the Sequence.
What made this Easter especially awesome for me was the fact that it was the twentieth anniversary of my baptism (Easter Sunday, 1993) and the ten-year anniversary of my reception into the Church (Easter Vigil, 2003). I had vaguely realized that these anniversaries were happening this year, but it didn't really click until Easter morning -- meaning that I spent Mass on Easter Day with a big smile on my face, as had been the case for most of the Vigil.
After Mass, when almost everyone had left to go spend time with their families, I took a few minutes to kneel in front of the tabernacle and recite the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the gift of faith and the countless other blessings God has bestowed on me.
All in all, it's been a fantastic Octave. And, we get yet another solemnity tomorrow -- it's the (transferred) Annunciation! Nine days of solemnities in a row -- that's almost too much joy to handle...almost :-).