Celebrating the Paschal Mystery

March 27, 2012

HOUSTON — The summit of the Church year is the Easter Triduum – the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. During these three high holy days, Catholics worldwide unite in celebrating the Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The paschal mystery is the source of hope for Christians. During the Triduum, we remember that new life arises from death, and that death is no longer the final word. 

How can you prepare to fully celebrate Easter after 40 days of Lenten discipline? The Texas Catholic Herald offers a few reflections to contemplate during each day of the Triduum. May these short meditations help you consider your own experiences of dying and rising in light of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. †

Jesus has become our bread for more than 2,000 years, and as a Catholic Christian I reflect on Holy Thursday as I listen to the words of St. Luke: "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Lk 22:15). Does our crazy world really pay attention to His words in the midst of all of our busyness and no time for silence? Personally, it helps me to reflect on the role of the 12 Apostles and with what emotion they must have remembered these words that it changed their lives forever on that Holy Thursday night. Which leads me to ask, do I really desire Him? Or am I indifferent? Is my persona anxious to meet Him? 
— Adrian Herrera, CCE associate director

This Holy Thursday, celebrate Eucharist together as a family, then reflect at home with the Gospel for the day (John 13:1-15). Family reflection: What does Jesus' desire to break bread with those He loves say to me about the importance of meal times? What does it say to me about the importance of Mass attendance? What does Jesus' directive to wash one another's feet, that is, to live in loving service to one another, mean in my family life? Personal reflection: Is serving my family something that comes easy or is it hard for me? Why is that?
— Teresita Johnson, Family Life Ministry associate director

HOLY THURSDAY: On Holy Thursday, we remember at evening Mass to serve one another as Christ has served us. Parish leaders and faithful wash one anothers' feet in rememberance of Christ's invitation to loving service.

On Good Friday, Jesus holds fast to our humanity in a forgiving and life-giving act of unflinching love. We are forever changed! Jesus' agony and torment is very public as He is mocked, scourged, slapped, spit upon, crowned with thorns and made to stumble His way through the streets of the Holy City carrying the instrument of His execution. Yet His love and forgiveness hold firm. Gentle Jesus, strengthen us in the times of our own deepest agony, grief, pain and powerlessness. Give us hope! Your desire for union with the will of God was spoken as thirst. Give us to drink! Enlighten us to recognize your truth and strengthen us with grace to speak with courage, to pour out forgiveness and compassion, and so to follow your way each day of our lives.
— Sister Heloise Cruzat, O.P., Vicar for Religious

Jesus' Passion is not primarily about His suffering and persecution. Rather it's about how He responds in love to others. Observe carefully this Good Friday's passion to recognize how Jesus loved all – those close to Him and those who rejected Him. Open your heart to His compassionate love.
— Mark Ciesielski, CCE and Youth Ministry associate director

GOOD FRIDAY: Altars are bare on Good Friday, a day of fasting. We listen closely to the Passion. We approach and kneel before the cross - even kissing it - and recall this death is also the instrument of salvation.

On Holy Saturday, I am still prayerfully meditating on Christ's willingness to do the Father's will onto death. While I know Christ's death leads to His glorious resurrection and ascension, in my own life, I am living in that in-between place. When we receive news of a serious illness or we lose our job, for example, everything else in our life fades into the background and our focus is on that struggle. We have many Holy Saturdays in our lives. Each Holy Saturday I am reminded of the great gift we all have: the gift of hope and trust in God which will allow us to live in faith during our times of uncertainty.
— Sandy Higgins, Office of Worship associate director

There's an ancient homily that we read every Holy Saturday that says: "Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep." That's what always stands out to me spiritually about the time from Good Friday afternoon through the Easter Vigil – the silence and reflection on the sacrifice that led to our salvation and fullness of life. Even with the busyness of so many activities, this is a day for me to be silent and pray for the word of God to burst alive again on Easter Sunday – the word that mightily conquers the greatest fears and doubts that anyone may experience.
— Father Brendan Cahill, Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services director

HOLY SATURDAY: We gather for vigil on Holy Saturday. We hear the story of our salvation: Creation, Abraham's sacrifice, our passing through the Red Sea. We remember this is our resurrection night and welcome new Catholics to the waters of Baptism and the table of the Eucharist.

When I was a child, Easter Sunday was a joyful celebration with enough food for everyone. This was not easy because I had a big family, nine brothers and three sisters, so counting my parents and my grandmother, we were 16 persons in the same household. Easter Sunday was very unique because I was able to eat all the of the candies I saved during Lent, lots of fruit that was a luxury item in my house and enough good food for all, even if I wanted to have seconds. This is still a child's memory of joy.
Now, as an adult, married and with six children, we avoid restaurants during Lent, so we save that money. Once Lent is over, as a family project we select a charity organization and give that money to them. As family, we attend the Easter Vigil celebration, one of the most beautiful we have in our Catholic Church, to be present with the catechumens and candidates when they are initiated in our faith. After the celebration, during the first hours of Easter Sunday when it is still dark outside, we all go to a restaurant as a family and eat for the occasion of joy, because Christ is alive!
It is a different celebration from when I was a child, but still a celebration of joy because Christ lives!
— Arturo Monterrubio, Family Life Ministry director

EASTER SUNDAY: Easter Sunday, we rejoice in life in the risen Christ! Renewing our baptisimal promises, we begin 50 days of celebrating Christ's resurrection. Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

Herald File Photos