This is the first Easter I will be spending apart from my family, without going to church, and without any sort of recognition whatsoever. I will miss seeing my relatives and enjoying their company, but I just didn’t want to do the traveling and have to say “no” ten times to invites to multiple masses, a special Saturday night religious ceremony my family has at dinner, and prayer times. To my family, the point of Easter was not chocolate, ham dinners, bunnies, nor eggs. It was always about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We were always very devoted and serious Christians. And easter used to be my favorite church holiday of the whole year.

I was raised semi-Catholic (never confirmed), and always kept one toe in the Roman Catholic pool. I would visit mass with my mother when she invited me, and my favorite service of any denomination was always the annual Easter vigil mass on Saturday nights (which is going on as I type this now). The late-into-the-night, 5-hour-long service was the high-point of my spiritual year. I memorized the songs as a child, knew the rhythm of the readings by the time I was a teen, and loved every single second. When other kids would be bored and restless, I was excited, attentive, and involved. And I wasn’t even Catholic!

There was a magic in the darkness of the sanctuary, a ripple of excitement when the candles were lit, and a thrumming thrill that flooded the entire church when the gospel readings were read, the lights came on, and the ecstatic songs of praise would ring out. I lived for those moments. I felt so at home, so fulfilled spiritually.

I miss how I felt there while following the readings in the missal, singing harmonies to words I would hum year-round, and clapping and shouting along as the parish praised the resurrection of the messiah. I miss emotions. I miss feeling a part of something that thrilling, uniting and predictable.

Emotions are the driving force in Christianity. Whether it be guilt, joy, peace, anxiety, love, rage… these emotions fuel the actions and decisions of a religious person. They are the proof that what you’re doing is real and righteous. The thrills of the vigil mass were what proved to me that God’s spirit was there–that Jesus was present with us. I know today that emotion proves nothing, but I miss the simplicity of my life when I believed what I felt inside made it all true. Now, it’s up to my mind, reason, and objective observation to show me what may or may not be valid and real. Ignorance was bliss, and this is my very first year without the bliss.

Instead of Happy Easter, I say, “Hasta la vista.”

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22 thoughts on “Without the Vigil”

Adam · April 12, 2009 at 4:13 am

I totally understand. This will be my first year doing the same. It's nice to know someone else is dealing with the same sort of thing I am.

    godlessgirl · April 12, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I'm glad we can rock the boat together then, Adam 🙂 I hope it goes well for you!

Adam · April 12, 2009 at 4:13 am

I totally understand. This will be my first year doing the same. It's nice to know someone else is dealing with the same sort of thing I am.

    godlessgirl · April 12, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I'm glad we can rock the boat together then, Adam 🙂 I hope it goes well for you!

MarkPogue · April 12, 2009 at 6:51 am

Although I was raised in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God environment, I never really believed and was never baptized. I guess I was always an atheist and I've been an open atheist for around 10 years now. I've lost family and friends due to my non belief, but that's the way it is sometimes.

    godlessgirl · April 13, 2009 at 6:09 am

    The same with any conversion (or deconversion, as the case may be), right? Losing those who value you for only part of your identity. I'm honestly afraid of that happening to me, but I'm anonymous more so I can keep my job in the recession. Totally selfish 😉

      Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 13, 2009 at 3:16 pm

      I have to come my own conclusion about the losing who value you for only part of your identity. Family or not, if they walk away, either they will come back or they won't. There comes a point where you become willing to lose people simply because you realize that if being who or whatever a simple part of your identity is leads them away, you wave goodbye. It hurts, hell I have cried over it here lately because of the criticism I have felt it lately from my father in regards to issues of one quote I like of an atheist and the fact I don't pray anymore. Life goes on regardless.

      Job whise well hey I don't blame you there at all 🙂

        godlessgirl · April 14, 2009 at 4:53 am

        I'm hoping your situation is very temporary and that he comes around!
        I am not so sure yet whether by keeping quiet (as I am now) is keeping a secret and being dishonest to friends and family, or if it's actually just fine since I'm not pretending to be anything I'm not. I'm simply being me without verbalizing the change or making a big deal out of it.

        Hmm… not sue yet on this one.

          Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm

          Maybe that is all that is need in your case. 🙂 I hope so. I got tired of hearing things my dad would say even though at times before lately, it wasn't as though they were bad for a man who believes in what he believes to be giving as advice to his son. Yet he would say them, and I would have to show some response either face to face or make a response via email. It ate at me to be indifferent or to give fake smiles. I'd rather voice out my strong opinions against or support than to constantly sit in the indifferent, ho hum stage.

          Yet this doesn't touch on all situations. This is just me and my dad and him and I have past problems beyond religious stuff. Its just odd tho how religious problems enhance all the other problems. Seeing this one for the first time. 🙂

            godlessgirl · April 15, 2009 at 2:00 am

            You've got that right. It's probably the most explosive element to add to a rocky relationship.

MarkPogue · April 12, 2009 at 6:51 am

Although I was raised in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God environment, I never really believed and was never baptized. I guess I was always an atheist and I've been an open atheist for around 10 years now. I've lost family and friends due to my non belief, but that's the way it is sometimes.

    godlessgirl · April 13, 2009 at 6:09 am

    The same with any conversion (or deconversion, as the case may be), right? Losing those who value you for only part of your identity. I'm honestly afraid of that happening to me, but I'm anonymous more so I can keep my job in the recession. Totally selfish 😉

      Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 13, 2009 at 3:16 pm

      I have to come my own conclusion about the losing who value you for only part of your identity. Family or not, if they walk away, either they will come back or they won't. There comes a point where you become willing to lose people simply because you realize that if being who or whatever a simple part of your identity is leads them away, you wave goodbye. It hurts, hell I have cried over it here lately because of the criticism I have felt it lately from my father in regards to issues of one quote I like of an atheist and the fact I don't pray anymore. Life goes on regardless.

      Job whise well hey I don't blame you there at all 🙂

        godlessgirl · April 14, 2009 at 4:53 am

        I'm hoping your situation is very temporary and that he comes around!
        I am not so sure yet whether by keeping quiet (as I am now) is keeping a secret and being dishonest to friends and family, or if it's actually just fine since I'm not pretending to be anything I'm not. I'm simply being me without verbalizing the change or making a big deal out of it.

        Hmm… not sue yet on this one.

          Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm

          Maybe that is all that is need in your case. 🙂 I hope so. I got tired of hearing things my dad would say even though at times before lately, it wasn't as though they were bad for a man who believes in what he believes to be giving as advice to his son. Yet he would say them, and I would have to show some response either face to face or make a response via email. It ate at me to be indifferent or to give fake smiles. I'd rather voice out my strong opinions against or support than to constantly sit in the indifferent, ho hum stage.

          Yet this doesn't touch on all situations. This is just me and my dad and him and I have past problems beyond religious stuff. Its just odd tho how religious problems enhance all the other problems. Seeing this one for the first time. 🙂

            godlessgirl · April 15, 2009 at 2:00 am

            You've got that right. It's probably the most explosive element to add to a rocky relationship.

Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 13, 2009 at 7:03 am

I'll be the dissenter here. I don't miss it at all. Sure I can admit there were nice mythological imagery and blissful feelings that now resemble fleeting as having too much too drink. Yet all that stuff is meaningless to me now. The only meaning religious holidays mean for me is to be with family and eat good food.

Yet I should be fair and admit, religious holidays lost its glory long before I lost faith. At the tail end of my faith, I became really liberal theologically. No longer did traditional mythical ritual mean too much. It was the subjective meaning that lasts all year long was what meant something (funny I say that and a lot of my favorite liberal theologians back then actually came out of traditional Christianity backgrounds). Yet I must admit for me, I didn't miss anything this year…like other years. It just another day. If my father and I were on good terms, I would have been with him, but him and I aren't on good terms, and my mother and sister live a state away currently…next year I'll spend it with them because I'm moving out there very soon. So for me, Easter this year was, "Its Easter?"

Your-Atheist-In-Arms · April 13, 2009 at 7:03 am

I'll be the dissenter here. I don't miss it at all. Sure I can admit there were nice mythological imagery and blissful feelings that now resemble fleeting as having too much too drink. Yet all that stuff is meaningless to me now. The only meaning religious holidays mean for me is to be with family and eat good food.

Yet I should be fair and admit, religious holidays lost its glory long before I lost faith. At the tail end of my faith, I became really liberal theologically. No longer did traditional mythical ritual mean too much. It was the subjective meaning that lasts all year long was what meant something (funny I say that and a lot of my favorite liberal theologians back then actually came out of traditional Christianity backgrounds). Yet I must admit for me, I didn't miss anything this year…like other years. It just another day. If my father and I were on good terms, I would have been with him, but him and I aren't on good terms, and my mother and sister live a state away currently…next year I'll spend it with them because I'm moving out there very soon. So for me, Easter this year was, "Its Easter?"

Michael · April 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

Hi GG!

My best wishes for your own self-determined life! Cheers, Michael

Michael · April 13, 2009 at 2:59 am

Hi GG!

My best wishes for your own self-determined life! Cheers, Michael

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