For the last number of years I have spent time in St. Mary's church during the all-night vigil [following the Maundy Thursday liturgy]. At first I spent just one hour, then I began signing up for two hours. One year, for lack of participants, I spent three hours. For anyone who has not spent some time at St. Mary's church during this vigil, I urge you to consider this next year during lent.
The time alone in the church (one year I brought my 5 year old grandson; he slept the entire time curled up on a pew), is sacred. Alone in the church, looking at the names on the windows, knowing of the families of parishioners who now reside in the cemetery, I feel the continued faith of those who have worshiped in our lovely wooden church.
A single candle glows on the Altar, to me this flame signifies the presence of our Lord. The distractions of daily life are put aside and I can feel that I am connected, with my prayers, with my presence, to the Spirit of God. Sometimes I sing, sometimes I play my wooden flute, sometimes I pray out-loud, sometimes I lift my arms high and say, “Here I am Lord, here in your house, alone with You.”, sometimes I kneel quietly before the Altar. The time goes quickly, too quickly mostly. One hour doesn't seem enough.
Even getting up in the dark (after a couple of hours of sleep) and driving to the church is sacred time. The world seems to all be sleeping (except for the person who awaits me in the church to take over) and the church is so beautiful, standing quietly in the countryside in the moon light.
I know that because of my other commitments I miss some other special events at St. Mary's and that is regretful. However, I hope I can always take a turn at the vigil, spending my “one hour” watch with Jesus.
Sharon Lewandowski is a licensed Eucharistic Visitor and coordinates the prayer list for St. Mary’s Church