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April 8, 2013

Surviving Easter 2013

There must a law, deep in the cosmic base code, that if parents dress their nine children in Easter white -- especially when New England snow is melting -- at least one will fall into the mud.

"It was tough," said Simcha Fisher, describing this Easter's obstacle course, "but we survived all that and made it to Mass."

This was not an ordinary Mass, of course. The Fishers -- with children ranging from 15 months to nearly 15 years -- were trying to get into the 11:15 a.m. rites on the day when their New Hampshire parish would be jammed with those known, in commentaries on modern church life, as Christmas-and-Easter-Only Catholics (CEOs), Poinsettia and Lily Catholics or even Two-Timers.

In a kind of Easter miracle, the Fishers found adequate real estate in a pew. "The church was, of course, packed," noted Fisher in a telephone interview. "The family in front of us was dressed to the nines and they seemed to be trying to break the world record for the consumption of gum" during Mass.

Fisher knows that this narration sounds whiny. After all, this year she approached the most important day on the Christian calendar even more aware than normal of the tensions between Christmas-and-Easter-Only worshippers and the faithful who attend week after week. As Holy Week came to a close, the National Catholic Register columnist had committed herself, in print, to being more hopeful and welcoming this Easter.

That's nice, but what are churchgoing Catholics supposed to do when faced with CEOs chattering during Mass "like they're in a football stadium," Fisher asks, or turning the "Resurrection of our Lord into a photo op, turning what should be the most joyous holy days into an occasion of sin for faithful Catholics"?

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