The second day of the cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy happened to fall on Easter Sunday. I was happy to see a mass scheduled at 8am. Me being me, I set a reminder alarm for all the days activities in my phone. I hadn’t expected that the 15 minute reminder to be my wake up call. I jumped out of bed, threw on my workout clothes and left my jet-lagged, sleep-deprived wife and daughter to the nondenominational services later on in the day.
As I made my way through the ship, I joined other mass-goers who clearly had woken up in time to dress for Easter. I found myself struggling again with the idea of dressing up for church. On one hand there is the simplicity of, “where two or more are gathered” and then there is the social aspect of putting on one’s best to worship. I often wonder how much of the dressing up is for show and how much is for respect. That useless mental struggle faded away when I entered the Walt Disney Theater and was surrounded by other worSHIPer, many of which were dressed for Easter, many of which were dressed to go work out afterward.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for a mass held in a the Walt Disney movie theater. Father Emil from New York presided over the mass. We sang hymns accompanied by a very cheesy Yamaha piano. It was odd to see Disney-garbed staff reading from the bible, as normally church and the symbols of the mouse are not commonly seen together.
Father’s homily for this Easter day focused on the transformation of Peter from the man who on denied Jesus on Good Friday into to a man who had the strength to go out and preach the in Corigma, the gospel as told by the Apostles. Father didn’t say that it was essential at this point in history that the Apostles have that strength, but where would Christianity be if they hadn’t?
This mass had all the elements of a good service. There were engaged worshipers, crying children, thought providing messages and of course, Catholics leaving immediately after Eucharist. It brought a smile to my face to see that even aboard ship, people make the decision to leave before the final prayers.
One unusual element of this ship-board service was that the motion of the ship resulted in the congregation swaying when we stood. You may not know this, but Catholics don’t sway in church. Heck, it’s tough enough to get them to clap. In North America anyway, I have always suspected that we don’t clap for fear of letting God see that he forgot to give us rhythm.
With mass ending, I found myself some coffee and made my way to the forward observation deck, half-way between the Florida and Cuba on open water. I sat down and thought about the message of Easter and this story of Peter that the priest brought me today. I thought my family’s about Easter traditions and how they all went out the window this year. I thought about how traditions can complicate holidays. For example Christmas is about he birth of Jesus, but we complicate it so much more and in doing so we lose focus. Same is true with Easter. It gets to be about rabbits and chocolates and clothing and hats and things that are off-point and certainly off-message. Maybe we need, occasionally to simplify our holidays and get back to what they are really about.
One thing I do enjoy about the Catholic church is that we celebrate Easter for 8 full weeks, up until Pentecost Sunday. Every week, we stay glued to the stories of Jesus from rebirth to his ascension and the blessing of the apostles with the holy spirit. I say this because it may take me a while until this post up. Regardless of when you see this, I hope that you have a happy Easter season. If Easter is like so last week to you, take a moment to reconnect to the message.