Saturday, April 23, 2011
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself. (John 12:32) This lifting up that Jesus speaks about is His lifting up through the cross, resurrection and ascension. This is the redemptive work of Christ, the Paschal Mystery. In the words of the Catechism, the liturgy does not merely recall these saving events of Christs life, but it makes them present, actualizes them. We celebrate these saving mysteries that happened in the past; we do not repeat them. The liturgy allows us to enter into these mysteries of Christs life through the door of faith and participate in them. This is the drawing to Himself that Christ speaks of, for, in the liturgical celebrations, the graces won for us by Christ are dispensed to us in the most superabundant way.

Pope Benedict describes the Easter Triduum as the essential core of our faith. It begins on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lords Supper. The night before Jesus died on the cross, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with an innovation, He consecrated the bread and the wine into His body and blood. In offering the sacrament of the bread and wine changed into His body and blood, He anticipated His sacrificial offering on Calvary the next day. Every Mass re-presents this sacrifice and on Holy Thursday we meditate on the Eucharist, the priesthood and the commandment to love one another.

On Good Friday we commemorate the Passion and death of our Lord. There is the liturgy of the Word, the veneration of the cross, and Holy Communion is given without a celebration of Mass. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. We try to enter into our Lords passion through prayer, penance and silence. On Holy Saturday, the Churches are bare and there is no celebration of Mass. This stillness helps us to meditate on Christ in the tomb. For Jesus truly died and descended into hell, and on Holy Saturday we meditate upon His death and descent into Hell.

That evening, of course, we celebrate the Easter Vigil. We renew our baptismal vows and receive new members into the Church. The light of Jesus resurrection from the dead overcomes the darkness of sin and death, and through baptism and the sacraments, we share in His victory of life over death.

The great uniqueness of Christianity is that God Himself has come down to earth to conquer evil through love and humility. God has become small for us through the sacrifice of the cross. He has done the work of our redemption, and it is by the power of the cross and resurrection that we are set free. During Holy Week we marvel at what God has done, and we repent for the wrongs we have done embracing this new life that He offers us. May you have a Blessed Easter!

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