Tag Archives: Easter

Easter photos? Let’s see ’em!

April 9, 2012

0 Comments

This blurry snapshot from 1963 brought back memories of an Easter Sunday long ago — me and my sisters posing with Grandma W. after Mass.

I think that white tie was the same one I wore for my First Communion four years earlier!

Love the cars in the background.

And how about those Chicago three-flats?

Love Grandma’s hat! A brother-in-law, with just a quick glance at this picture this week, thought it was a priest standing behind us kids.!

And then there is this pic from then annual egg hunt this year in Grandpa Z’s backyard.

Ahh, to be six-years-old on Easter!

So how about you?

Got a great photo from Easter this year?

Send it to zyskowskir@archspm.org and I’ll post as many as the webmaster will allow right here on the Spirit Blog on http://www.CatholicHotdish.com.

Continue reading...

How the Early Church Commemorated Christ’s Passion and Resurrection

April 4, 2012

0 Comments

Some Triduum traditions date back to the Early Church--and some don't. Photo/Daniel Leininger Licensed under Creative Commons

If you’re looking forward to observing Holy Week and Easter as I am, hopefully you also see this as a good opportunity to grow in faith. Another aspect of the Triduum that I love is the tradition that shapes our prayer, worship and family customs during this important time.

This year marks the 1,979th time (approximately) that Christians have commemorated Holy Week and Easter.  That’s almost two millennia of celebrations involving hymns, incense and readings of the Passion, not to mention Easter lilies, ham and Peeps.

The early Christians unfortunately had no Peeps but they did have some prayerful and interesting ways of commemorating these holiest days of the year. Some of their customs have become part of our tradition and some of them are no longer practiced.

Fasting was an important part of the Early Church’s Holy Week observances. Second century Christians practiced an absolute fast from food for the 40 hours before Easter and a third century account indicates that some during that time fasted from food throughout Holy Week. It was the norm to fast on Holy Saturday, the hinge between the seasons of penance and Easter.

Walking in Jesus’ Steps

Some interesting details about Holy Week in Jerusalem are found in a document called the Pilgrimage of Egeria dating to about the year 388.

Christians began the week on Saturday evening before Palm Sunday in Bethany with dinner and the Gospel reading of the anointing of Christ’s feet. The next day they assembled at the Mount of Olives for hymns and readings, and then processed to Jerusalem with palms and branches.

On Holy Thursday, Christians attended the liturgy late in the afternoon and again traveled to the Mount of Olives where they commemorated Jesus’s agony and arrest all night. On Good Friday, they venerated a relic of the true Cross in the morning and commemorated the Passion for three hours in the afternoon. On Friday night clergy and laity who were strong enough held another vigil.

Another early Holy Week tradition that has endured is the Tenebrae (Latin for shadows or darkness) service. On the evening or early morning of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, Christians of various denominations chant or recite psalms and readings while a series of candles is gradually extinguished leaving the church in darkness. At Catholic services, readings are from the Liturgy of the Hours. The tradition of putting out lights at the service dates back to the fifth century.

Baptism and Fire at the Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil was an all-night celebration during the Church’s first six or seven centuries, as sometimes hundreds and even thousands of catechumens were baptized at once.

The vigil blessing of new fire, during which Christians lit lamps, candles and the paschal candle, may have led St. Cyril of Jerusalem to comment that the night was bright as day. The Roman emperor Constantine illuminated Rome during the vigil with lamps and huge torches.

In the eighth century when the Church began administering the sacrament of baptism on Saturday morning instead of Saturday evening, Catholics in France, Germany and other countries developed a two-part ceremony to celebrate the Easter Feast on Sunday.

First, at midnight before Easter morning in the dark church the clergy brought the Cross from the sepulcher to the high altar. Candles were lit and the congregation processed solemnly with the cross through the church, the cloister, or cemetery. When they returned to the church, participants sang a hymn symbolizing Christ’s victorious entry into purgatory and hell.

Reenacting the Easter Story

Then before dawn on Easter Sunday, two priests representing the holy women went to a place designated as the empty tomb where another cleric representing the angel announced the Lord’s Resurrection. The first two priests brought the message to the choir prompting two other priests impersonating Peter and John to run to the tomb. Finding it empty, they showed the congregation the linen that had wrapped the body. These reenactments have been the basis for many Easter plays.

Whatever traditions you keep, I pray that during this 1,979th Triduum we may enter more deeply into the mysteries of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. Finally, I hope this much-loved Paschal homily by St. John Chrysostom inspires you.

Blessed Holy Week and Easter!

Continue reading...

Waiting in line for confession? What to do and not do

March 26, 2012

0 Comments

In line for confession at the Vatican or anywhere else, make the most of the wait time. Photo/rufty Licensed under Creative Commons

I plan on going to confession before Easter and I know I’m not alone. No matter how often Catholics receive the sacrament, many find this is an especially good time to seek forgiveness and healing in preparation for Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

I don’t know if there will be a long line at my church when I go but I’m guessing I’ll  have to wait. I don’t like it but it’s a great way to work on patience–a virtue that comes up often when I’m in the confessional.

If you’re like me and you sometimes do your formal preparation for confession during the car ride to church, waiting in line to receive the sacrament of reconciliation offers the chance to slow down and really think about what I’m doing.

If you get to church and find a long confession line, maybe the first thing to ask is, do I really need to go right now? If you’re confessing venial rather than mortal sins, confessing them is a good idea but when many others in line may have more serious sins to confess, you can seek forgiveness during Mass, as Father Zuhlsdorf suggests in his blog.

Ways to prepare for confession while waiting

  • Pray: Ask God to help you make a good confession. Pray the rosary for His guidance. One friend prays that he can be honest and confess all the Lord wants him to, and also that he’ll be receptive to what God wants to reveal to him through the priest. Here are some pre-confession prayers.
  • Prepare: This site offers a good guide for making a confession and Catholics Come Home offers a number of resources.
  • Examine: If you’re not sure everything came to mind during your car examination, make a more thorough examination of conscience now. Check one of these sites while you’re waiting:
    Here’s one that offers both preparation for the sacrament and an examination of conscience.
    This one might be hard to read on a phone but I think it’s good.
    Father John Hardon offers an in-depth examination of conscience.
    This examination is also thorough.
  •  Reflect on your sins and seeking forgiveness. Read the bible. Some churches offer guides with prayers or reflections near the confessional. Orthodox priest Father Ted Bobosh offers a beautiful meditation on confession and the wisdom writings in the book of Sirach on his blog.

A  few things not to do in line

  • Talk:  This is not the time to get to know fellow parishioners. You disturb others who are praying and concentrating on receiving the sacrament.
  • Text, Surf or play games on your phone: Using your phone or iPad to pray or do an examination of conscience will help prepare you for the sacrament but texting or using other apps won’t. Try turning it off if you’re not using it for preparation.
  • Sing or pray out loud:  Find another place in the church for this if it helps you prepare.

The idea of going to confession makes some people anxious enough without adding a long wait in line. If we can see this wait time as a gift rather than an early penance we can go into the confessional the same way we leave it–with peace.

Continue reading...

This year, all May is Eastertime

April 29, 2011

0 Comments

Risen Christ Stained Glass

Risen Christ, St. Helen's in Milwaukee

There are thirty-one days in May, and this year because of the lateness of Easter, the entire month falls within the Easter Season. It is the fifty-day season from Easter to Pentecost, “The Great Feast,” a festival of weeks, seven weeks, seven sets of seven days, to commemorate and celebrate the greatest mystery of our faith, the Resurrection.

There are many indicators in the liturgy that Eastertime is special. The primary liturgical color is white, sometimes with gold as an optional color as trim, both which signify victory and glory, jubilation and exultation. The Glory to God and the Alleluia, both missing during Lent, are restored. The creed is replaced with a renewal of baptismal promises followed by a sprinkling rite. The Easter Candle, also known as the Paschal or Christ Candle, normally kept off to the side during other times of the year, is given a position of prominence in the sanctuary. The church is decorated with lilies and other brightly-colored flowers, all which symbolize joy and new life.

Two sacraments are featured during the Easter Season: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism is highlighted to extend the celebration of the baptisms of the catechumens at the Easter Vigil, for the entire community to welcome the new members, and to celebrate the faith that all believers, new and old, hold in common. If possible, it is also desirable to celebrate infant baptisms within Sunday Mass during the Easter Season to give greater attention to the sacrament.

Eucharist is also given prominence during the Easter Season because it is one of the most important ways that the risen Christ continues his presence among us. For this reason, it is the ideal season to celebrate the reception of First Holy Communion.

Two books of the Bible are used extensively at Mass during the Easter Season: the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. Acts is chosen because it tells the story of the early Christian community, an important place where the risen Christ can be found, because as Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20); and the Gospel of John because it emphasizes Christ’s divinity more than the other three.

Easter is the holy season when we celebrate the fact that Jesus is the true Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world. By dying, he destroyed our death; and by rising, he has restored our life. In Christ a new age has dawned, the long reign of sin is ended, and a broken world has been renewed. Alleluia!

Continue reading...

The Joy of Easter – Know the Joy! Share the Joy!

April 21, 2011

0 Comments

The Risen Christ

Risen Christ from Light of Christ in Clearwater FL

Easter is the greatest feast of our faith.  We are an Easter people, a people marked by joyfulness.  Jesus is raised.  He has conquered sin and death.  His victory is our victory.  His death means our redemption.  His resurrection means our salvation.  How could a person not be filled with joy over such wonderful news?

Every genuine Christian cannot help but be transformed by the Easter event.  All is changed:  darkness to light, doubt to faith, selfishness to generosity, despair to hope, sin to grace, and death to eternal life.

Easter should have profound ramifications on our outlook and attitude, our disposition and demeanor.  How can a person be both a Christian and frowning, grumpy, pessimistic, sour, disagreeable, or negative?  They cannot!  These features are like oil and water.  They simply do not mix.  Easter Christians are just the opposite:  smiling, cheerful, optimistic, upbeat, happy, agreeable, and positive.

People can tell rather quickly whether someone is an Easter person or not.  We all “give off vibes,” “send out signals.”  Easter people radiate genuine positive energy, and in doing so, bear witness to the reality of the resurrection.

While Easter happens on one Sunday of the year, we are called to be Easter people all of the time:  in Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, and Ordinary Time too.  For Christians, every day is Easter!  Every day is a day to be joyful!  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), a trademark of the authentic Christian.  Jesus said, “People will know that you are my disciples by your love” (Jn 13:35).  Upon his rising Jesus could have easily also said, “People will know you are my disciples by your joy.”

Continue reading...