24/03/2016 12:27 pm
The Easter bank holiday provides most people with an opportunity to rest and meet with family and friends. For Christians, the week preceding it and the weekend itself is the most dramatic, wonderful and amazing time in the Christian calendar. Over a billion people worldwide will recall the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who once and for all conquered sin and death, to bring everyone who chooses it, new life, unconditional love, peace, joy and forgiveness.
You are very welcome to ‘come and see’, to attend any one or all of the very beautiful and important events happening in Catholic churches during this period. You don’t have to be a Catholic to come along to experience the drama and wonder of Holy Week and Easter, and to receive too the graces and blessings being offered to you and your family.
Some of the main services are:
Palm Sunday – ‘Holy Week’ begins on Palm Sunday (this year 20 March) and celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with them. On Palm Sunday churchgoers are invited to joyfully wave palms as part of the service and listen to the story of Jesus’ suffering and death as preparation for the coming week.
Maundy Thursday - Maundy Thursday is the common and popular name for Holy Thursday, the first day of what's called the Easter Triduum. In the evening of Holy Thursday Catholics come to church to celebrate Mass and recall Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples at which he washed their feet as an expression of his commandment to ‘love one another, just as I have loved you’. Towards the end of the supper he blessed bread and wine saying, ‘This is my Body’ and ‘This is my Blood’, and gave them to his disciples asking them to ‘Do this is in remembrance of me’. A commandment the Church has continued to fulfil. After the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass) attendees are invited to remain and to pray silently, uniting themselves with Christ as he awaits arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday - is the Friday before Easter Sunday. There is a service in the church at 3pm during which the story of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross is proclaimed and prayers are offered for the Church, the world and for those in need.
Holy Saturday – is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday during which Christians meditate on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and prepare for His Resurrection.
Easter Vigil – is celebrated after sunset on Saturday evening. The Vigil is an extended service of preparation for Christ’s Resurrection. It begins with a Service of Light which starts outside the church where the priest lights the Easter candle saying: “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The candle is then processed through the church (and usually lifted at three different intervals) by a priest or deacon singing: Christ our light (Lumen Christi). The congregation sings in reply: Thanks be to God (Deo gratias). Then the light from the Easter Candle is spread throughout the church as everyone lights their own candle. The candle symbolises ‘Christ, the Light of the World’. It is one of the most visually beautiful moments in the Church’s calendar. The Vigil continues with an extended Liturgy of the Word followed by a Liturgy of Baptism during which new members are baptised. The liturgy ends with a celebration of the Eucharist.
Easter Sunday morning – the Church celebrates Christ’s Resurrection. As a sign of the importance of the celebration the Priest wears a white or gold vestments and the whole congregation renews the promises which were made at their baptism.