Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Weekend 2007

I love Easter. There's always a danger it can get routine, but, it's also an opportunity to be inspired by the incredible suffering Christ endured for us and the mind-blowing power of His resurrection. This Easter has been a major blessing.

Holy Thursday:

I haven't always participated in Holy Thursday, but this has been my loss. Here we celebrate the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us the Eucharist saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) It's also when Jesus gave one of His greatest examples of servant leadership by washing His disciples' feet.

This year my priest asked me to have my feet washed at the front of the Church along with 5 other men and women. I usually don't mind getting up in front of large groups of people, but I was absolutely terrified. I wanted to skip Mass altogether to avoid any potential embarrassment. Of course, I went and it was a moving experience, allowing a man I deeply respect to humble himself in this way. I was also very pleasantly surprised, that they used warm water to wash our feet, I wonder if the apostles had this luxury.

Of course Thursday was also the night when Jesus was betrayed by Judas, and when he prayed so hard that he sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Holy Thursday sets the stage perfectly for Good Friday.

Good Friday

Today we remember how Jesus died. We remember the torture he endured, the abandonment and betrayal of so many who had followed him. We remember the cruel, merciless death on the cross, and the sharp pain that must have been felt by those who loved him.

Church liturgy is rich today; we are called to fast and make it a solemn day. In the last few years, we've also made a habit of watching The Passion of the Christ. It's a bloody and gruesome retelling of the story that really makes his sacrifice real.

It's a holiday in Canada (at least here in Ontario), and I'm very thankful because it allows us to observe this day properly. I pray that Americans will also get this day off because it is so important.

Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil, which begins at sundown, is when Catholics begin to celebrate the resurrection. The church is totally dark with a small fire or candle lit at the back, representing the light and life that Jesus has brought into the world. Everyone is given a candle and soon the glow has spread through the entire church. It's a long service, where we remember how often God has saved his people throughout history from Creation to Christ.

It's also the day when new people are brought into the Catholic Church through baptism or the Rite of Christian Initiation. I wonder how many thousands of new Catholics were brought into the church today.

Today's a bit of an anniversary for me; it was Easter Vigil 5 years ago when I was received into the Catholic Church!

Easter Sunday

Always Awesome. The new day and the (usually spring like weather), highlight how truly amazing it is that Jesus rose again after dying. After spending most of the weekend reflecting on Christ's suffering and death, and imagining how his disciples must have been totally crushed. It's a wonderful feeling to imagine the joy and bewilderment they must have felt when they first realized what has happened.

Our Easter joy increased a little when we noticed how much snow was on the ground. We were able to go tobogganing for a couple hours after church. Great fun!

The best part is . . . Easter is not just a weekend. Liturgically it's a season that stretches on for several weeks. More than that, it's the reason Christians celebrate anything at all. Truly it's not too late to wish you a very HAPPY EASTER!


BJ said...

Hi! I thought you and your readers might be interested in some post-Easter news about Pope Benedict XVI...
The Pope's car is being auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity:
The bidding is already more than $200,000! Personally, I think this is a really fun and creative way to raise
money. The auction goes until April 14th if you and your readers want to check it out.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Neat Idea, but a little out of my price range.