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Catholics, the world over, are observing the Holy Week which will conclude with the joyful celebration of Easter

In His holy footsteps

Fr Walter de Sa

The holy season of Lent is drawing to a close. It ends on Maundy Thursday. No doubt, we have made serious attempts during this season to seek our own metanoia through fast, prayer, and deeds of mercy. From Maundy Thursday, we begin the Easter Triduum, leading us to the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. The Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday constitute the Easter Triduum.

The Holy Week that commenced on Palm Sunday is a special one for all the faithful. The mystery of salvation brought about by Christ is deeply reflected upon whereby the faithful are closely associated with the Passion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The palms blessed by the priest and carried in procession, not only symbolise the triumphant entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, but also anticipates His victory.

On Maundy Thursday which marks the celebration of the Lord’s last supper, three main events, instituted by Christ, are recalled, namely, the Lord’s Supper, the Priesthood and the Commandment of brotherly love (Mandatum Novum). Jesus had His last supper with His twelve on which occasion, it is sad to note, one of His own, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Him. He gave His own body and blood for our spiritual nourishment with the strength of which we, in turn, would do the same to our brothers and sisters in need. Further, He gave the blessing to His twelve to “do this in My memory,” so that His sacramental presence would remain with us “until He comes again”.

The Good Friday is a day of mourning as the Lord Jesus was crucified and sacrificed for our sake. The faithful contemplate and adore the cross on which Jesus was nailed for the salvation of the whole world. His last words from the cross are very edifying for our personal transformation. For instance, before His last breath, He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” “It is accomplished.” The crucified Jesus fulfilled thus God’s salvific plan to the fullest. The cross has now become God’s power for us to attain our own redemption. “Behold, this is the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.”

The main liturgical celebration of the Lord’s Passion consists of the Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the Holy Cross and the Holy Communion.

On Holy Saturday, the faithful accompany the crucified Lord at the tomb. They not only meditate on His passion and death but, more importantly, they await His resurrection as foretold by Him: “And on the third day I will rise again.”

The Easter Sunday is preceded by Easter Vigil which is known as the “mother of all vigils.” It is a holy night when the faithful await and celebrate joyfully the resurrection of the Lord. It also expresses people’s expectation of the Lord’s eschatological coming. The main parts of the Easter Vigil comprise the Liturgy of Light, Liturgy of the Word, Baptismal Liturgy, together with the renewal of baptismal promises. This then is followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The joyful character of Easter is expressed by the singing of Alleluia and the display of the Easter candle placed in a prominent place in the Church until the end of the Easter season, ie on the Sunday of the Pentecost. The joyful nature of the Easter season is also manifested by reciting Regina Coeli in place of the Angelus prayer.

Very sadly, in the wake of the prevailing pandemic COVID-19 that infected thousands of people worldwide, resulting in the death of humans in thousands, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued guidelines in respect of the celebration of Holy Week and Easter Liturgies, with restrictions.

Therefore, this year, all over, the observance of the Palm Sunday, the Triduum and the Easter will be marked without the presence of the assembly of the faithful, an unprecedented fact in the history of the Catholic Church that the faithful cannot swallow. However, they will be united in spirit, and pray with joyful hope at home with the priests celebrating the liturgies in their respective parish churches.

St John Paul II has succinctly expressed the reality of the Resurrection in the following words: “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our victory song.”

It is, indeed, the Resurrection of Jesus that enlivens our hope, particularly in the face of the current global epidemic, that He alone can calm down the storm we are in.

Alleluia! A blessed Easter to all.

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