Focused on Tomorrow

Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

During these last four weeks, several people I know have noted, “This Lent is like one long Holy Saturday.”

In some ways, yes. It’s like we’re in suspended time. My teenager is having trouble keeping track of what day it is. I am, too. There’s not much to distinguish one day from another.

As of today, it’s been exactly four weeks since I’ve received the Eucharist. We attend the livestreamed Mass at our parish and are grateful to have that opportunity, but for me it only serves to increase my hunger for the sacraments.

Normally on Holy Saturday, we’re all focused on tomorrow. On any other Holy Saturday, I’d be putting together Easter treats for my kids (and for the one who lives two time zones away, I’d already have mailed something). I’d be ironing dress shirts and making sure I had every last ingredient I needed for a festive dinner with a special dessert (and maybe even appetizers if I was feeling extra ambitious). I’d be reviewing three or four responsorial psalms in advance of the Easter Vigil and double-checking my music binder to make sure everything for tonight and tomorrow was inside and in the right place.

This year, if I’m able to get potatoes, I’m thinking our festive Easter dinner (and all-day Easter project after online Mass) will be homemade pierogi.

This year, the tomorrow we’re focused on is the day we will be released from our own socially isolated “tombs” — the day we can once again leave our homes, visit with family and friends, be present at Mass.

For Jesus, that day was Easter. For us, it will be later.

But for today, let’s focus on Jesus’ tomorrow. Let’s focus on the Resurrection and the hope it signifies.

Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Small Success Thursday: Easter Vacation Edition

It’s Thursday! That means it’s time to join up with the rest of the CatholicMoms and celebrate some Small Successes.

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxThis week’s Small Success Thursday linkup at is titled “Time Well Wasted.” That’s also the title of an album I enjoy by the Freddy Jones Band. My favorite track is Take the Time. It’s good stuff. Take the time to listen!

And on to the Small Successes:


It’s Easter vacation, so everybody’s home (including Hubs) and I am trying very hard to just go with the flow here. Sometimes that means I get to be a little bit lazy too. That part is easy. Other times it means I try to say “yes” to those last-minute schedule changes that everyone else in the house come up with. My first response is still usually “no” but if I have 15 minutes to think about it, I can generally get to “yes.”


Easter Sunday Mass was a wonderful celebration. We had so many people show up for the folk group that we ran out of chairs for everyone in the choir area. That’s the best problem to have! We sang our hearts out. We celebrated. After both the prelude (“Tell It Out”) and the responsorial psalm (“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad”) a little kid somewhere in church yelled, “YAY!” It was sweet, and I think it broke the ice a little bit. Mass  was super-crowded, with plenty of kids, and everyone was there in their Easter best and probably feeling a bit stiff. That kid gave everyone a chance to chuckle and relax a little, and there was plenty of smiling and people joining in the singing. And that’s what it’s all about:  sing once, pray twice.

After Mass there was plenty of joking among the folk group members that we should hire that child to come to our Mass every Sunday and cheer for us.


I’ve been cooking, which I love to do! Here are the latest recipes I’ve gotten up on the cooking blog:

Beef Fajitas beef fajitas



Granmas rollsGranma’s Rolls



Easter ham and cheese bakeEaster Ham & Cheese Bake




Enjoy! And Happy Easter!

12/year: really belated

This blog has been sorely neglected lately, so I decided to (belatedly) link up with Barbara’s 12/year photo roundup! Most of the pictures were taken on my phone, but at least I’ve got a few pictures!

In March,

I received an “Honorary Doctorate” for reading to the pre-K when the school celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
I spun a science-fair-mishap into a delicious cookie/brownie combo!
We had much better luck with our second attempt at the science fair cookie recipe! Read all about it–the cookies were terrific!
It snowed–the most snow we got all year.
Little Brother is a Boy Scout now, so he got to help with the Easter Vigil fire. Here’s the “before”…
…and the “during.” You can’t see Father; he’s on the other side of the flames. 
Alleluia! Easter sunrise.

Easter’s Musical Gift

Alleluia, He is risen!  We sang all about it yesterday.  And it was wonderful.

Our parish schedules an extra Mass on Easter to accommodate the expected crowds.  The rest of the schedule is shuffled a bit so that the larger of the two church buildings has the majority of Masses, which makes sense, because you need to fit more people.  Our folk group was playing at the little church at 10 AM.  There hasn’t been a 10 AM Mass at the little church in almost 4 years.  So I was a little curious about how well-attended it would be.  Would people forget?  After all, my husband would have headed over to the big church if I hadn’t reminded him that we were singing at the little church.  He’d have found a Mass there too, because both churches had a 10:00–but he wouldn’t have found us.

It was a full house–and more–in the choir area, because it was a full house–and more–in the church.  My husband and mother-in-law couldn’t get seats in the pews, so they sat with us.  So did Big Brother, who didn’t have a guitar at home to play (and regretted that, at the last minute).  Middle Sister was serving, of course.  The folk group showed up in force, except for one member who was visiting faraway family.  Best problem in the world to have:  not enough seating for all the musicians and singers.  Fortunately, our church has these great “window seats” in the choir area.  At least 10 people had to use them; all 15 chairs were taken.

And we made our joyful noise.  It feels SO GOOD to lift your voice in “Alleluia” and “Glory to God” after all this time.  This group has a long tradition of singing “All Good Gifts” on Easter (the Godspell version) and though you might think of it as better suited to Thanksgiving, it works for Easter so well:  Easter Mass is all about celebrating, and thanking God, for the enormous and extravagant gift of love, shown through Jesus and His sacrifice.

Even better, we were permitted to sing our very favorite piece:  the Lord’s Prayer.  It’s a hallmark of our group, but one that we were asked to stop singing when the parishes merged.  A couple of times during Lent, the pastor (who asked us not to sing it anymore) allowed us to sing it.  People love it.  It’s right up there with “Amazing Grace” in the Raise the Roof and Sing Along Factor.  And our associate pastor loves it, because it eliminates the whole “barrel through the Lord’s Prayer” thing that is his personal pet peeve.

Our associate pastor has been stationed here for more than 7 years, and I think I’ve seen him actually sing maybe twice in all that time.  Yesterday, he sang along with the Lord’s Prayer too.

When we finish the Lord’s Prayer, we all get the same feeling:  we have Been To Church.  We have PRAISED.

I got a big basket full of chocolate and sugar for Easter, but the music was definitely a better gift, because it helps me remember the greatest gift.


Some Easter Randomness

Because when you’ve been up since 4 AM (for no good reason whatsoever), random is as good as it gets.

I haven’t slept past 5:15 in a week.  Anxious much?  Why yes, yes I am.  I’ll know tomorrow when my surgery is scheduled.  It’ll be either the 16 or the 23, the doctor thinks.  If I don’t start getting some sleep soon, I’ll be pushing for the 16th, just so I can get some rest faster!

I put together the Easter baskets last night, and delegated the Hiding of the Eggs.  There was a little obsessive checking this morning to make sure that the eggs had, indeed, been hidden.

Big Brother and Middle Sister were both awake when I went to bed last night.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t inspect the Easter baskets, because Big Brother’s basket still contains eggs filled with candy (I checked that too.)  Middle Sister gets annoyed that her brother doesn’t want to hunt for eggs anymore, and last year she emptied his basket and hid all the eggs before he woke up.  We were still finding them early this year (M&Ms. Still good.  Finders keepers.)

I took Little Brother to the outdoor portion of the Easter Vigil last night.  In our parish, the Boy Scouts are in charge of the Easter fire.  Who better to ask?  They know how to build fires, and they know how to “leave no trace” later.  Plus, they’re happy to stick around when everyone else has processed into church, and tend that fire until it’s out.

Is that an awesome Easter bonfire or what?  People were a lot closer when they first gathered around, but they stepped back pretty quickly.  It was a windy night.

Once everyone was in church, the Scouts brought out the marshmallows and the campfire-pie maker.  Last night’s flavor of choice:  apple.  The Scout families and a few friends enjoyed Holy S’mores, featuring imported German chocolate with chili and hazelnuts along with marshmallows toasted over the Easter fire.  Not only do our Boy Scouts know how to make a fire, they know how to cook.

I always encourage parents of little children to bring them for the “Easter fire” part.  But this year it was a little disappointing.  It felt like the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the Easter Fire.  I don’t know if it was the new translation (I doubt that) or what, but there was no assembly of the Easter candle with the little pegs representing the wounds of Christ and the inscription of the year.  That’s a fascinating thing for kids (and grownups) to see.  Kids can see the candle being assembled.  Then in church they can go look at it more closely after Mass.  It’s something they’ll see all year.  Last night, though, there were no little pegs on the candle and the outdoor portion was over in 5 minutes.  It took longer for everyone in the assembly to get their candles lighted and get inside.

We’re playing at the 10:00 Mass this year.  That’ll throw my whole day off…I’ll get home and think it’s 1:30.  Some people in our folk group are not “morning people” so this could get interesting.

And if my surgery is next Monday, this will be the last Mass I play for a while.  I won’t be able to hold a guitar for a few weeks, and the day before surgery I’ll be stuck in the house on a clear liquid diet, so I’ll have to hit the 8:00 Mass.  So in a way, I’m hoping for the 23rd so I can play one more week before my little hiatus.  I can’t help it; I’m just crazy like that.  Playing guitar in church–that’s what I do.  It’s a huge part of me.  It’s a huge part of how I pray.

So today, I am going to relish every song, every “Alleluia,” every chance to lift my voice and glorify God.  Even when the songs and settings are not my favorite ones (and many, today, are not); even when the politically-correct lyric revision distracts (and it will); even when we no longer can sing “The Happy Gloria” because, to our knowledge, it hasn’t yet been revised to match the New Translation; even with all of that, it’s a privilege and a joy and a gift to do what I do, with the talented musicians and singers in our folk group who have become my close friends over the years.

All together now:  “Alleluia!”


He is risen! Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!

This photo was taken two years ago on Easter at our little church. It was traditional that the empty tomb would be displayed near the tabernacle and baptismal font. I’m glad I took that picture because that was the last year the tomb was displayed.

The empty tomb was a wonderful place to take children after Mass and show them that Jesus is, indeed, risen–the tomb is empty. I miss the visual reminder that would stay up throughout the Easter season. So, this is my place to post that reminder.

I’m off to get ready for Mass, where we will joyously sing the “Glory to God” and many, many “alleluias.”

It’s NOT About the Eggs

…or even the Peeps.

Those are all fun, and we enjoy them, but they’re really not the reason we celebrate this day.

They’re not the reason we all gathered last evening and watched Big Brother light the Easter fire. How cool is THAT? Big Brother’s Boy Scout troop is charged with building the Easter fire this year for the parish. Let me tell you, Boy Scouts know how to build fires. This was no wimpy little flame. People had to back up when this fire got going.

One thing I missed this year at Easter Mass was the empty tomb. Above is last year’s tomb. We’ve had one like it in our parish as long as I’ve been there, and probably for much longer than that. But there was no tomb this year; no place to pause after Mass and reflect on the wonderful gift we remember today.

Father Tom, OFM’s, homily for the day is here.

Father Martin Fox’s homily for the day is here.

Father Daren Zehnle’s Easter Vigil homily is here.

Father J.C. Maximilian’s homily is here.

Easter Mass Recap

I’m glad that I was needed in the choir for yesterday’s noon Mass. I love Easter Vigil, and it’s nice to sit with my family, but I needed to do the music on Sunday. It just completed Easter for me.

Sunday’s noon Mass was a full house–standing room only, even in the choir! Since I pretty much only sit during the homily, I gave up my chair to someone else and sat on the bench at the window at that time. I was happy that there were so many who wanted to rejoice by raising our voices! We had lots of little ones in the choir too–one member had her baby twin boys, who made some quiet “happy baby noises” and were very good and of course very cute; one of the kids in the choir was visited frequently by her little sister, who would wander over from the nearby pew where the rest of the family sat, and our music leader’s toddler was there as well. We’re family-friendly in this choir, and that’s really nice.

Father reminded all of us that our most important job on Easter is to renew our baptismal promises, and that despite the fact that “Catholics are really good at mumbling,” he expected us to do that with great enthusiasm. He also invited us to get a good look at the Empty Tomb. And that’s another reason I was glad I came back on Sunday. The tomb was even more beautiful with the light streaming through the stained-glass window behind it. But the most beautiful thing about the empty tomb is what it represents.