Hints of Easter joy | Persons, places and things


By Barb Arland-Fye

The sound of birds chirping on a chilly Saturday night provided a hint of the Easter joy I have been longing for. My husband Steve and I stood outside the entrance of the Church of St. Peter in Mendota, Minnesota, with other worshippers to begin the Easter Vigil before a crackling fire. “What do you think the temperature is,” I whispered to Steve. A man standing next to us said, “It’s 42 degrees. We’ve had it (the Easter fire) in colder temperatures.”


Deacon Tim Hoffman dipped the Easter candle into the well-built fire not once, but several times in an attempt to light it. Efforts to light the Easter candle with a smaller, hand-held candle also failed, at first. The pastor, Father Steven Hoffman, reassured the person holding a smaller candle that it was OK to take his time transferring the flame from the fire pit to the Easter candle. The gathering processed into the church to light the rest of the candles that each of us held. By the time we stood beside our sons in the church, everyone’s candle pierced the darkness.

We were in the Twin Cities to celebrate Easter with family members who live there, looking forward to a reunion postponed since Christmas. We arrived on Good Friday in time to visit with my parents, to whom I am grateful for passing on the Catholic faith to me. Seeing their smiling faces, in person, hinted of Easter joy.


Hints of Easter joy had begun for me the night before, during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which I attended at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. Witnessing Bishop Thomas Zinkula and Father Thom Hennen, the cathedral’s pastor, wash the feet of a diverse group of 12 people reinforced the call to emptying of self for the sake of others. After Mass, I followed a procession, led by the bishop, into the chapel for eucharistic adoration. My intention was to take photos and leave, but the peacefulness of the chapel, the sense of unity in prayer in this intimate setting, drew me in. My restless heart needed to rest in the Lord.

The next evening, during Good Friday services at St. Peter in Mendota, my heart stirred as I watched people of all ages — including our two sons — line up to reverence the crucifix in front of the sanctuary. As Steve and I proceeded in line, a young boy with physical challenges approached the cross ahead of us with two adults, perhaps his parents. With their encouragement, he leaned forward and placed his hand lovingly on the corpus. After the last people in line reverenced the crucifix, Father Hoffman carried it to those in the pews unable to stand in line. One older man raised his hand, which shook mightily, and placed it on the corpus. Two suffering men connected in faith and love over the millennia. I felt the stirrings of Easter joy.

Steve told me he felt the hints of Easter joy seeing a young family — mom and dad and four children — at the Easter Vigil, clearly happy to be together. They are the future of the Church, people committed to the faith community and the domestic church.

One more hint of Easter joy emerged on the drive back home to Iowa when I received a call from my dear friend, Marcia, who had suffered a serious injury earlier in the week in Colorado, where she lives. Hearing her upbeat voice, knowing that she was going to be

OK, was an answer to fervent prayer. I felt like Colin, who told me in the car, “Jesus Christ is risen today … I can’t get that song out of my head.”

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org)

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