I attended an Easter Vigil at Sheil on Saturday night. I was glad for the experience in many ways, not least of which was that it was illuminating about the differences between the Protestant background I was raised in and Catholic traditions that I witnessed on Easter Eve.
First and foremost, I was hit with theology I disagree with: one of the prayers early on spoke of the necessary sin of Adam that won us such a great Redeemer. The problem I have with that line were the words "necessary sin" (the only thing I wasn't paraphrasing). In particular, it appears to be in opposition to what I believe the book of Romans says.
In Romans 3:8, Paul asks a rhetorical question: "Why not say "Let us do evil that good may result"?" He revisits the idea of sinning in order that grace may abound in Romans 6:1: "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!". (Passages quoted from the NIV.)
The point is, I don't believe there's a good basis for claiming Adam's sin was "necessary".
I enjoyed the cantor/congregation interaction during the musical responses to the reading of scripture. Sheil's congregation really sings out! It seemed to me that, by giving the songs' verses to a soloist, the congregation was better able to pay attention to the words and meaning, moreso than the congregation of my church back at home might be able to. That's just conjecture, though: I'm sure that with enough exposure Catholics can glaze over song lyrics just as easily as Southern Baptists.
Probably the most striking part of the service was how much scripture was read aloud. It was read by a group of people, which allowed for a more dramatic reading. I want to mention that the voice of God was occasionally provided by women, but commentary would be useless and cheap.
All considered, I enjoyed the service.
*[NIV]: New Internation Version