Holy Week: My Favorite Season of the Year

Each Lent, when I am trying to keep my Lenten sacrifices and often failing, my mind wanders to Christ who was faced with infinitely more challenges and suffering that I can imagine, yet he never failed. While it would be easy to wallow in self-pity with the knowledge that I can never be perfect, I rejoice, for this week–the holiest of all weeks is our reminder that He who was without sin, gave us His body as an offering so we can all be given the opportunity for Heaven.

The Easter Triduum begins on Thursday with Mass of the Lord’s Supper,  continues through Good Friday with the passion of the Lord, and the glorious  Easter vigil, and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

Holy Thursday

The Easter Triduum begins with Mass on Holy Thursday evening, when Jesus sacramentally anticipated the gift he would make of himself on the cross to his disciples, who did not understand. He instituted the Eucharist and created the priesthood this Last Supper. His command to serve others recalled this night in the ceremony of the washing of the feet,  in remembrance of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Like the Paschal lamb, killed and eaten by the people, according to the Old Testament account read from Exodus this evening, Jesus is a sign of God’s salvation.

Good Friday

The Good Friday service is a powerful recalling of the Passion of Jesus. We Catholics join our hearts in prayers for the entire world, and solemnly venerate the Crucifix, sacrifice and mourn the death of Jesus

The Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil is the most beautiful Mass of the entire Church year, and my favorite Mass. We  celebrate the empty tomb, the resurrection of Jesus. With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the church in worship expresses her faith in the mystery that brings her into being.

Light conquers darkness

The vigil opens in darkness with a service of light.

The outdoor lighting of the fire and the Easter candle go back to rites that long preceded Christianity. The candle, carried with loving reverence and lyrically praised in word and song, is a sign of Christ, “the light of the world,” and celebrates the victory of light over darkness that humanity has ever longed for. The candle is notched and accompanied with prayers declaring Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

God’s love endures forever

A series of readings and Epistles recalls the great interventions of God in history, from creation to the the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and ends with the story of Jesus’ resurrection. Finally, we again join in the great “Alleluia” to proclaims with joy the triumph of God’s Son. Those who have prepared to enter the Church receive the sacraments of initiation, such as Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. The blessed water sprinkled over others signifies the blessing of new life.

Rejoice! This night says as it brings before us the deepest symbols of our hopes and fears. The darkness, sign of evil and death, has been overcome by light. A lamp, a candle has been lit; a fire is enkindled in our hearts; a nourishing water flows through our lives; a baptism destroys what is unclean and brings to life again. 

Rejoice! this night says to all creation. The Word who made all things, as a new Adam, freshly proclaims God’s promise of life. All creation celebrates God’s love.

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