Oh my goodness, guys, Easter here in Krakow is absolutely amazing.
Most of Holy Saturday we spent preparing for Easter meals and celebrations the next few days, so it was a bit of a busy day leading up to the Easter Vigil Mass that evening. We went over early to the sanctuary to get seats before Mass, grabbed our candles, and prayed quietly for a bit in the dark, unlit church. A few minutes before Mass began, we headed outside to the Easter fire and watched as all the priests processed out with Cardinal Dziwsz to light the new Easter candle. We all followed back into the church after the Cardinal, priests, and altar servers with our candles lit from the Easter candle itself! After that, we sat for the next hour or so, hearing salvation history read to us in the seven old testament readings and psalms. This was the first time I had even been to an Easter Vigil Mass where all the readings were read, and it was such a blessing to see how all of the Bible leads to our redemption in the Resurrection. After those readings, we sang the Gloria, followed by listening to the epistle, Gospel, and homily.
No one came into the Church at the sanctuary, so we only had the sprinkling rite. We watch the Cardinal baptize the Easter candle, before coming around the sprinkle us all with holy water after renewing our baptismal promises altogether. Then we began the liturgy of the Eucharist, and as usual, it was absolutely beautiful to see so many priests participating in the miracle at the altar along with the Cardinal. After communion, the monstrance was placed on the altar, and I began wondering what was happening. Were we having another Eucharistic procession? I had never had so many Eucharistic processions in one week before, and I was soaking it all in. Before I knew it, our candles were being relit by the Easter Candle, and we were procession around the shrine with Jesus before ending Mass, at 11:30 at night! We went out to all the church bells ringing, telling the whole world that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! We then returned to the church for the final blessing. As all the priests lined up to process out, the choir and orchestra began the processional hymn, and the Cardinal paused at the alter to wait and listen rather than process out to the music. It was so heartwarming! He walked up to the conductor after and shook his hand and then heard their next song, and then procession out with the rest of the priests.
After Mass had wrapped up, we went back to our home to have a midnight dinner and toast to the risen Lord! I ate as much as I could at midnight because my body was definitely desiring sleep more than food.
The next morning we had a full brunch before heading to the Shrine of Divine Mercy to sing for the 12:00 English Mass. Fr. Bernardo celebrated the Mass and it was such a joy to celebrate Easter with him. After Mass and spending some time in prayer, I headed back home and took a nice long nap after a few days straight of late nights from all the Triduum and Easter celebrations. We all had an early dinner of leftovers from midnight dinner and brunch while watching Downton Abbey before heading to bed.
In Poland, Easter Monday is a national holiday. Easter Sunday is meant to be celebrated at home with family, and you go out and celebrate with everyone else beginning on Monday. There is a tradition to douse your loved ones with water as well, to celebrate the Baptism many received this past weekend. The rules are, that men get women wet before noon, and women can get the men wet anytime afternoon. Let’s just say, we girls pulled out all the stops to douse the guys with water. You can check out the JP2 Project Instagram to see a compilation of some of our water pranks (https://www.instagram.com/thejp2project/). I spent most of the morning out, avoiding getting wet and shopping in the Easter market downtown before it closed, and the afternoon dousing friends with water, and that was basically the whole day! On Tuesday, we hosted an Easter party for friends after class out on our terrace. It was a great night filled with good food and conversation, a great way to celebrate this season.
Our chaplains are part of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, and the female side of that is the Servadora order. Many of the Servadora sisters are visiting Krakow and other parts of Poland for the next week or so on pilgrimage, and we’ve gotten to spend so much time with these wonderful women. They are all so full of joy and lift your spirits anytime you talk to them. Some of us went to Mass with them in what was JPII’s private chapel when he was bishop of Krakow, and we went to lunch with them afterward. That night, when we came back, we had dinner with the Ukrainian refugees that have been living on our floor with us, since they flew out in the morning to family in the United States. Thursday we spent time again with the Servadoras. We went to morning Mass with them and tagged along for some of their tours before heading to class. Friday was pretty similar, as we went to Mass with sisters again, this time at the Divine Mercy Shrine, and then went home to work on homework and other tasks.
It’s been a delightful Easter Octave this week, and I can’t wait to see how Krakow celebrates all 50 days of Easter. See you all next week, csesc!