Have you planned a special celebration for Easter Sunday?
For many of us the approach of the end to Lent, our time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, was signaled last Sunday, Palm Sunday.
On Palm Sunday, we heard of Christ riding into town on an donkey while his followers put their cloaks or branches down on the road before him, proclaiming, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Matt 21:9) I couldn’t help but think of this being the equivalent of rolling out the red carpet for a movie star, but the correlation stops there, since Jesus was so much more. Yet, have we always put Christ on a higher pedestal than the stars we admire?
Do we rejoice when we’re in His presence?
This evening beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we begin the Easter Triduum, the three day liturgical season (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) that concludes Lent and introduces us to the joy of the Easter season.
Today, Holy Thursday, we remember how Jesus lowered himself by washing and drying the feet of his disciples. What a lesson for us that teaches how to put away our pride and to humble ourselves by providing service to those less fortunate than us.
Do we rejoice when we give of ourselves to help the homeless, the sick, or the needy, being thankful for the gifts that we have to share?
Holy Thursday is also celebrated by Catholics as the day on which Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, while at the Last Supper he converted water and wine into his body and blood and gave it to his disciples to eat and drink. This was not just a symbolic act, but one that Catholics believe is repeated daily at Mass. This is a true test of a man’s faith if he can believe in such a miracle. In each of our faiths, do we have something that causes us to believe in something that goes beyond human ability; that is supported by supernatural acts that only a loving God could do?
Do we rejoice when we witness or share in these miracles?Tomorrow, Good Friday, Christians around the world commemorate the death of Christ. Many will observe the Stations of the Cross, others will read or attend services where the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by John will be read and/or reenacted. Catholics will fast and abstain from meat. In New Orleans, many will make the Nine Church Walk, a journey to any combination of nine churches out of fourteen that are available. This journey is a gesture of joining Christ on his way to the cross. Christians know the importance of this day, for Christ could not have risen had he not died. Without rising, he might only be regarded as another holy man, rather than the Son of God.
Even in our sorrow, do we rejoice at the death of loved ones knowing they are freed of human suffering and are enjoying life with Christ where we can be reunited with them for eternity?
On Holy Saturday, the church remains in mourning until sundown when the new liturgical day begins. Hence Catholic Churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans will have Easter Vigil celebrations beginning at 8 p.m. At that time we can let the Easter celebration begin.
We rejoice – Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!
For those unbelievers, I quote St. Thomas Aquinas, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”Rejoice and have a happy Easter!