Things have really changed from Easter Sunday of old

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2008

By Harold Keller

It seems as people get older, the more they reminisce.  I’m 73 years old and the other day I started to think about next Sunday being Easter.  My thoughts went back to how Easter Sunday was as a youngster growing up in Reserve, Louisiana, a 99% Catholic community.

Lent was different.  It seemed that most of the people took it more seriously.  Easter Week, or Holy Week, was full of church activities.  On Holy Thursday, people volunteered to stay in church at different times around the clock to pray and reflect.  Good Friday was a day everything was closed.  Services started at noon and lasted three full hours.  The church was packed and the reflection on the death of Jesus seemed to be more solemn.  I think back now and, without a doubt, know that people had more appreciation for what Jesus did at the cross.

I realize that Reserve was a very small place and the St. Peter church family seemed to be more intimate.  What made it nice was that we didn’t have as many distractions – not as much entertainment.  People had morals and the family unit was intact.  Divorce and teenage pregnancies were unheard of.

The whole community geared up for Easter Sunday.  As I reflect back, I remember that there was a 5:00 a.m. Mass for men only. (That’s right – only men!)  I think the reason for that was because some men went to church only once a year and this way they might not be too embarrassed.

The Catholic tradition of confession was practiced more on the Saturday before Easter than at any other time.  People would stand in line for an hour or more to go to confession.  Why so much activity in preparing for Easter Sunday?  In those days, confession and communion during the Lenten period was called your “Easter duties.”  Almost everyone wanted to complete this ritual because if you didn’t and died during the following year, your body could not be placed in the church, in other words, these people were not entitled to a church service before burial.

When I was about 13 years old, I was allowed to attend the 5:00 a.m. “men only” Mass of Easter Sunday.  I really thought I had arrived!  I never saw so many men in a church before or since.

Now, the big day, Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ!  What a celebration!  In those days, it was required for the ladies to have their heads covered.  Try to imagine the different styles of Easter bonnets that were worn.  It was something to see what everyone called “their Easter outfit.”  (It could have been called an Easter parade.)  Little boys and girls dressed up, the majority with white shoes.  At that time, it was unheard of to wear white shoes before Easter Sunday.  I can still remember the excitement my children had when shopping for their Easter outfit.  We went to church as a family and paraded down the aisle.  I have to admit that we sometimes got so caught up in the tradition that we almost forgot the read celebration.

Thanks for allowing me to reflect on some really good years.

I pray that next Sunday, as we celebrate at church with family and friends, we concentrate on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our salvation.  Salvation is free, but not cheap.  Jesus paid the ultimate price for it and it’s available to all, but we must make a decision to claim our gift of eternal life.  We must repent (change from our sin nature) and allow Jesus to be the Lord of every area of our life.

Happy Easter!

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: