Being Catholic means (well, for some but not all) spending a lot of time in church during a certain weekend in March or April. I am glad that I have a job that allows me to participate in everything, right down to the Saturday morning spent washing pews and carrying lilies to help get the church spruced up for Easter.
It's the Vigil that I most look forward to. Beforehand the darkened church is quietly buzzing with anticipation as the assembly begins to gather, servers, clergy, musicians, and readers go over their parts and catechumens don the robes they will wear for baptism. The liturgy begins with a blazing fire near the sidewalk in front of the church. Do passersby wonder what we are up to? The Paschal candle is lit and the fire spreads across the tapers held by everyone old enough not to burn the clothing of the person in front of them in procession back into the church. "Christ our Light!"
It's a long Mass, two hours plus, or even three or four (I have heard) in places, but it's a night for telling our story and renewing our hope. And that takes time. I feel the joy as the lights are all turned on and as I remember the "resurrections" I have experienced and witnessed in life. The story is not just one that happened two thousand years ago, but one that is imprinted onto the hearts of those who celebrate this feast each year.
It's a long celebration, but it's also "outside of time," so that almost every year at the conclusion, someone remarks how surprising it is that it is so late.
He is risen! Alleluia!