Easter in prison--always a challenge--and always fun. While many churches see a swell of congregants on Easter and Christmas, we have the irony of Mass only on Easter and Christmas. Catholic services here are on Sundays and priests are few and far between and any who are still upright and breathing are busy in parishes. No extras for the prison.
But on Easter and Christmas, we are gifted with a retired priest, Fr. Joe, who comes to celebrate with us. He's here other days as well, offering reconciliation to the men who seek him out. But Easter is fun.
First, will Fr. Joe and the other volunteers make it in to the chapel by 8:15am? Will there be a problem with mainline, officers busy in the dining room and no one to check folks in through the scanner? Will we have fogline? Will we have electricity?
Second, there's the challenge of celebrating Mass in the same amount of time that we usually celebrate a Word and Communion service. With music. We didn't baptize anyone this year, but in past years, in has been a tight squeeze!
After the gospel, Fr. Joe asked if I had anything to say. I did. I'd been caught by the image from Paul about "all of creation groaning" for the week before Easter and I wondered out loud about Jesus being raised from the dead. Did the angels roll the stone away and then did all of creation stand at the edge and yell with one voice, "JESUS! COME OUT!" Did creation yell as loudly as Jesus did a few weeks before, summoning Lazarus from the tomb? So much poetry and art paints the scene in early morning silence. I'm more convinced that it was a noisy event. "JESUS!"
I think I knocked a few people out of their seats when I yelled. In church. More than once. Hey. Why not?