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Friday, April 22, 2011
Our Easter Traditions
Today began the Easter Triduum in our church. It begins on Holy Thursday where our Mass includes the reading of the Last Supper and a re-enactment of the washing of the feet. After Holy Communion is distributed, the altar is stripped and the tabernacle is left open. The Holy Eucharist is taken to an altar of repose somewhere inside the church, either at the back or side but away from the altar and the tabernacle. The cross is covered over with a cloth and no image of Jesus is left.
After Mass tonight I sat in church waiting on my daughter who is an altar server to finish assisting with the stripping of the altar and removal of candles etc. As usual I felt desolate and could relate to the disciples who had to watch Jesus die and then leave Him in a cold, dark tomb, feeling despair and emptiness...perhaps the end of all their hopes. Many of them did not believe that He would really rise again as He had said.
I looked at that empty tabernacle.. doors swung open to show nothing inside.. and felt my heart heavy with the absence of Jesus. I could hear my heart echoing the words of Mary Magadalene on Easter morning "They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him!"
Tomorrow morning, I will join my family on the annual Good Friday walk where we say the Stations of the Cross while processing in the street from one church to another.. remembering every step that Jesus took, His falls, Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry the cross, His brow being wiped by Veronica, His crucifixion and death. Again I will enter the church for the short service and view the stripped altar and empty tabernacle and my heart will be heavy with loss... stricken by the enormity of the grief the disciples and the holy women must have felt on that day... separation from Him.
Saturday night we will celebrate our Easter Vigil Mass. It is long, but beautiful. On this night we also baptize new members of the faith. The lights are put out and a bonfire burnt from which lights are brought in to light candles that each person brings. We sing ' Christ our Light' and the priest and altar servers process up the darkened church.. as they proceed they light our candles and the whole church slowly lights up. This represents how we were in darkness, but Jesus is our Light. We bring bells to ring and as we sing Gloria the whole church just rings to bursting with joy. He is Risen!
While there is also Mass to celebrate Easter Sunday.. and it is completely different from the Vigil.. I have never felt the joy and outpouring of the Spirit that I feel on Glorious Saturday night at the Easter Vigil Mass. What a wonderful feeling it is. The dark melancholy of the first part of the triduum into the vibrant joy of the last part.
However you commemorate and celebrate Easter, I wish you every blessing and joy from God and may your weekend be filled with love and good times with your loved ones.
Love & Blessings
*This post was written late on Holy Thursday night.. hence the present tense.
Posted by Lisa Maria at 12:13 AM