Easter and Holy Week

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy week.  This will be followed this weekend with the Easter Triduum.  The Easter Triduum, marking the days of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, is the most important time of the church year. It begins with the evening mass of Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes on Easter Sunday evening.  Prepared by the days of Lent, Christians celebrate on these holiest of days the saving work of God through the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Easter Triduum begins with mass on Holy Thursday evening, when Jesus sacramentally anticipated the gift he would make of himself on the cross. His command to serve others is dramatically recalled this night in the ceremony of the washing of the feet, which he performed in the supper room for his disciples.  In our Christian Church, the last supper marks that all important beginning of celebrating Christ through the Eucharist, the bread and wine consecrated at mass.

The Good Friday services focus on the reading of the Passion of Jesus. With simple dignity that story is retold, followed by prayers for the entire world, for this powerful mystery brings blessings to the world. According to ancient tradition, an image or relic of the cross is venerated on this day, and the sacrament of Christ’s love for his church is received. It is a day of fasting and quiet mourning.

The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Easter Triduum celebrating the passion and resurrection of Jesus. With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the Church in worship expresses our faith. The Vigil opens with a service of light.  The lighting of the fire and the Easter candle go back to rites that long preceded Christianity.  The candle carried with loving reverence and lyrically praised in word and song, is a sign of Christ, “the light of the world” and celebrates the victory of light over darkness.  A series of readings recalls the great interventions of God in history, from creation to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and ends with the story of Jesus’ resurrection. Those preparing for Baptism then receive the sacraments of initiation. The blessed water sprinkled over others signifies the blessing of new life.

In the weeks leading up to Easter our challenge was to reflect on our lives and to be inspired to action.  In this image, we have the responsibility to be good stewards of this world, our country and our community.  Whilst we often look at life as a mystery enfolding, our faith is an excellent marker or guide to ensure that we “See, Judge and Act”.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a secondary co-educational school in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 900 students and 120 staff. Marcellin Technical College is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 11 and 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 120 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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