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We’ve been preparing for Easter through forty days of Lent, culminating in the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter on Saturday night. All that waiting and preparation peaks when we gather on Saturday night for a solemn vigil.
We wait in darkness, bless a fire, process with candles, and hear the stories of our salvation through the scriptures. The emphasis is on waiting for the culmination of the story: Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Bells are rung, and alleluias are sung as we hear the gospel account of Christ’s rising. Then, following this proclamation of the core of our beliefs, new members are brought into the Church through baptism and a profession of faith. The recounting of Christ’s new life is closely connected to the Church’s renewal through the reception of its new members. This year are parish will be welcoming 14 people into full communion with the Catholic Church.
This celebration as a vigil is important because it doesn’t just commemorate something God did in the past; it celebrates something God is doing today. Although our salvation was accomplished 2000 years ago, we are also watching and waiting to see what God is doing in our lives today. Because our past and our future are connected, through God’s saving power.
The celebration of Easter, as a vigil, invites us to break out our most potent symbols of God’s action, and our response. So, all the waiting, the readings, music, candles, procession, and initiation, all remind us that God has accomplished something amazing by loving us so much. And our vigil is a statement, individually and collectively, that we are ready to be renewed and to live out of the grace we’ve received.
Come and join us tonight for the Easter Vigil 8pm St Mary’s Duke Street
Some of our children from Holy Family church gathered this morning to remember the events of Good Friday following Jesus on the journey to Calvary and then to the tomb
What is Good Friday and why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it is such a dark and bleak event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus?
For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. St. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).
Today we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith.
In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. Another way of saying this is that it is important to understand and distinguish between law and gospel in Scripture. We need the law first to show us how hopeless our condition is; then the gospel of Jesus’ grace comes and brings us relief and salvation.
In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus. Paradoxically, the day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage.
The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin.
Join us this afternoon for the Lord’s passion 3pm St Mary’s Church Duke Street.
Holy Thursday is the day on which Christ celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, four days after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Only hours after the Last Supper, Judas would betray Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, setting the stage for Christ’s Crucifixion on Good Friday.
Holy Thursday is more than just the lead-in to Good Friday; it is, in fact, the oldest of the celebrations of Holy Week. And with good reason: Holy Thursday is the day on which Catholics commemorate the institution of three pillars of the Catholic Faith: the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the priesthood, and the Mass. During the Last Supper, Christ blessed the bread and wine with the very words that Catholic and Orthodox priests use today to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass and the Divine Liturgy. In telling His disciples to “Do this in remembrance of Me,” He instituted the Mass.
Near the end of the Last Supper, after Judas had departed, Christ said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” The Latin word for “commandment,” mandatum became the source for another name for Holy Thursday: Maundy Thursday.
Also during this Mass there is the washing of the feet, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them (and us), “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you”. As His followers, we are to emulate Him, serving one another in lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build one another up in humility and love.
Today, an important liturgical celebration occurs that only takes place in the cathedral, but touches many lives in every parish in the diocese. It is, of course, the Chrism Mass at which the Holy Oils to be used in every parish are consecrated, blessed and distributed.
It is also the occasion at which the priests of the diocese concelebrate Mass with the bishops to manifest the unity of the presbyterate (the priests) with the episcopate (the bishops). During the celebration all renew their priestly vows.
The Chrism Mass is an important and unique example of Church with priests and people gathered for a significant event in the life of the local diocese. The renewal of priestly vows and the blessing and dissemination of the Holy Oils are necessary and life-affirming actions in carrying out the day-to-day ministry in every one of our churches.
There are three Holy Oils used in anointing for various occasions. The Sacred Chrism is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy orders and in the dedication of a church. Sacred Chrism is consecrated (as opposed to the other oils which are blessed) and only a bishop may do so. It is olive oil mixed with balsam. During the consecration the bishop breathes on the oil symbolizing the consecration by the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the Sacred Chrism the bishops blesses the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens. Both oils are olive oil, but, unlike the Sacred Chrism, there is nothing added. In the early Church the Oil of the Catechumens was referred to as the Oil of Exorcism. In the baptism of an infant, the child is anointed on the breast and the priest anoints the child in the name of Christ asking that he will strengthen the child against the power of Satan.
For adults, the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens, which may occur before baptism, is to grant the individual the strength to persevere in their journey and to overcome bonds of the past and the opposition of Satan.
Anointing of the sick is found in James 5:14, “If anyone among you is sick, he should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord.” The Oil of the Sick is used in the anointing of those seriously ill or in danger of death in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (formerly known as Extreme Unction).
After the Chrism Mass, priests return to their parishes with the Holy Oils to be used during the next year at all of those occasions that are so very important in the life of the Catholic Church and her people.
A good number of parishioners from our parish left this morning to attend the Chrism Mass.
Come and join us tonight for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper 7pm At St Mary’s Church Duke Street.