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Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter to all of you! Christ has risen, indeed He has risen!

Like Christmas, it has been an exhausting 24 hours. In a move of boldness, I did something I never thought I would do for Holy Saturday-I wore a hijab to church.

The day I donned a hijab


What propelled me to do this was a combination of fashion (I was wearing an abaya-like Kashmiri kaftan and that tan pashmina shawl paired well with the garment), piety (my Carmelite confessor suggested a penitential activity for Holy Week, and I decided veiling my hair would be it), and homage to Jesus' Semitic roots (contrary to the popular narrative, the term "Semite" is not exclusive to Jews. It encompasses Arabs and North Africans as well).

Despite watching many a Youtube tutorial on how to wear hijabs, my hijab wasn't particularly well done because I'd put it on while in the car with only my hand mirror to guide my pin placements and it was my first time ever doing this. It was also hot and kind of itchy because it was made of wool. I was admittedly a little worried about wearing it in public because I thought somebody might mistake me for being a Moslem and shoot me, given how badly maligned Moslems are in American society. Fortunately, no such thing happened and it was a huge relief. In fact, nobody even paid much attention to me. Besides, I've worn saris and babushkas to church, so why should a hijab raise a stink?


Canon Bill (in purple cloak) getting ready to bless the fire

In what may be an ominous sign from God, the priest and the novitiate assistant had a tough time getting the Easter candle to light

Finally!


The Holy Saturday Easter vigil is a VERY long service. It starts, however, with the holy fire. Basically, the priest blesses a special fire and lights the Easter candle with its flames. Canon Bill, however, had a tough time getting the starter candle lit. He would get it close to the hot coals and flames, but the wick wouldn't take and the candle was fast becoming a melted mess. My husband speculated to me that God was telling us something, though he wasn't quire sure what the message was. I speculated that the message was to get a lighter or a stick since this candle was pretty well useless now.

Lumen Christi, Light of Christ (note: the church is completely dark; this was just the flash from my camera)

Canon Bill blessing the baptismal water

Blessing the baptismal water

The baby INSISTED on crawling around in the kiddie ghetto


After enough tries and a new candle, the Easter candle was finally lit and we then proceeded to enter the church. We got candles to hold and we lit them from the Easter candle. It was at this point, however, that we had to go up to the kiddie ghetto because the baby became quite restless. We spent the rest of the Mass up there. Fortunately, there was only one other family with children so it wasn't too crowded. We did periodically take turns going downstairs to get a break because the baby absolutely wore us out with her crawling and noisemaking. My husband finally took the baby outside because it was becoming uncomfortably hot upstairs in the kiddie ghetto and she was really starting to act up. She wasn't the only child who was misbehaving, though. The small children of other families were acting up too. Even I was becoming restless. It's hard to sit still for three hours during a religiously intense service like Easter vigil. People can bitch about bringing kids to church, but how else can you expect them to learn how to behave in church if they don't go?

Needless to say, when we got home, we were all pretty exhausted.

The altar at our Carmelite church all decorated for Easter

Today, Easter Sunday, was spent at our Carmelite church. It was a much happier time with good music and an inspiring sermon. The baby behaved herself mostly well and slept through the last third of Mass. Afterward we purchased a few sacramentals from the Holy Land, which were being sold outside in the courtyard by a few Palestinians. Our cholomobile got a specially blessed crucifix and my husband got himself a new rosary. From church, we then went to Panda Express and got lunch to celebrate Easter since it was too hot to cook and neither of us knew what to eat.

Me wearing my famous pink sari. This being the holiday of Easter, I'd normally wear my red and gold silk one, but it was too hot outside for silk. This pink one, being made of polyester, is lighter.
Happy Easter everyone!

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***Note: before anyone starts accusing me of shit, let me make this clear: I am a Catholic, not a Moslem and do not have any intention of becoming a Moslem. However, I do sympathize with the plight of Moslems in America because they are today what Catholics were just prior to the Iranian Revolution when Islamophobia became officially etched in stone on the American psyche: persona non grata and to be viewed only with suspicion. Also, when I go to church, I make it a habit to dress modestly, which includes covering my hair. This stems from Paul's letter to Timothy reminding women to dress modestly. A hijab looks different than the chapel veil or mantilla more commonly seen in Catholic churches in the West, but it fulfills the modesty requirement, as do saris and babushkas all of which I've worn on different occasions to church. From the cultural appropriation standpoint, a hijab is not that far of a stretch from other traditional European headdresses (particularly in the Balkans). The garment has just been politicized by the powers that be for their own sinister ends and as a result we all suffer.  Any unkind comments will be deleted and dealt with accordingly.

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