“Hosanna!! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel.”John 12:13
April 9th marked the final Sunday of Lent, and the beginning of Holy Week, the most revered period of the Catholic/Christian calendar. Throughout churches around the globe, God’s faithful ushered in Palm Sunday with palms in hand, as it widely symbolizes peace and victory. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey similarly, symbolizes humility. This was the final days of His earthly ministry.
At the Church of Sacred Heart, parish priest Fr. Edwin Peter led the congregation through the Passion liturgy and blessing of palms. In his homily, we were all reminded to live a life of servitude and humility, and continue being Disciples of Hope. As Jesus took on the sins and sufferings of mankind, we too, are called to follow and carry our own crosses – not only through thoughts and words, but in action and deeds.
The Sacred Triduum
Holy Thursday – Mass of the The Last Supper
“This is My body which will be given for you; do this in memory of Me.”Luke 22:19
As Catholics filled churches this day, we commemorate four main events: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
Holy Thursday, being one of the most profound days in the Catholic Church, celebrates the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ, and the institution of the Sacrament of Priesthood. The Washing of Feet, a tradition followed by priests worldwide is a significant act – this was when Christ gave His disciples final instructions by summarizing the meaning of His ministry, manifested His perfect love and revealed His profound humility.
Just as the disciples kept vigil with Christ, parishioners of Sacred Heart Church and Our Lady of Good Health took turns to continuously keep vigil after the Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It is here that we, the faithful, remain in silence and prayer, as we reflect on our daily struggles and burdens. And even during these dark moments, we are assured of God’s presence.
“For God so loved the world that He gave us His Only Son;that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16
When one steps into a Catholic church and looks around, we are reminded of the events leading up to Christ’ crucifixion as we gaze at illustrations of the Stations of the Cross. A day of fast and abstinence, churches are usually filled, as the faithful gather in solemnity. The church is stripped of all its ornaments – the altar is left bare, the tabernacle empty and no music accompanies service, an act of mourning and reverence. During Good Friday service, the reading of the Passion takes place, followed by intercessory prayers by the Celebrant, for the Church and the entire world, for Christians and non-believers alike. As The Reproaches are poignantly chanted, we become deeply aware of our sinfulness. Service at Sacred Heart Church and Our lady of Good Health, both culminated with Veneration of the Cross by parishioners.
“The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”Psalm 19:1
A day of prayer and reflection, only after the solemn vigil at night; held in anticipation of Christ’ resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin. The Paschal vigil commences with the blessing of the fire and Paschal candle by the priest at the church grounds. This symbolizes Jesus, the Light of the World. Following this, a series of Scripture readings take place. At our parish, 10 adult Catechumens were presented to the parish community, who then prayed together for them with The Litany of Saints. Before baptism, Catechumens are introduced to a preparatory period – familiarizing them to the church’s teachings, creeds and prayers. Before baptismal rites take place, the congregation together with Catechumens recite the Profession of faith and Baptismal vows are renewed.
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even if he dies.”John 11:25
The day finally came where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb; the 3rd day after He was nailed on the cross. We remember His persecution and death for the sins of mankind, and rejoice in new hope – victory over sin. At the Church of Sacred Heart, 6 infants were baptized by Fr. Edwin Peter. As parents and godparents made their vows to invest in conscious effort in the spiritual development of these children, we the parishioners stood as witnesses too; and was made to realize our strive for holiness in our own lives.
Many still do celebrate Easter without really knowing its true meaning. It is our role to educate them to look beyond the eggs, chocolates, hi-teas, egg hunts and bunnies. We must embed in ourselves, and our little ones the true essence of Easter. As we spend time with family, friends and relations, one thing we must not forget – to celebrate JESUS!!!
“THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HATH MADE;WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.”Psalm 118:24
by Ann Marie Louis
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