Our religious practices of prayer, fasting, abstinence, alms-giving, repentance and penance are emphasized. Our renewed faith gives us hope, courage and strength to do good deeds. With Christ in mind and heart, we conquer fear and sin.
With Holy Week in full swing, we're now focused on the observance of the Easter Triduum.
Triduum, commonly pronounced "TRIH-doo-uhm," comes from Latin and means "three days," the most sacred days in the church.
During Triduum, the traditional Jewish practice of counting days from sunset to sunset is used. Hence, Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday evening is the first day; Good Friday evening to Holy Saturday evening, the second day, and Holy Saturday evening to Sunday evening the third day.
Evening Masses are held in Catholic churches all over the world to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders. The Gospel's account of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is read.
There's also the symbolic commemoration of the Lord's Supper, in which Christ directed His disciples to carry out the same ritual: "Do this in remembrance of me."
On Good Friday, church worship services relive the passion of Christ. There are readings from the Old and New testaments, but the most important reading is the account of the Lord's passion and death from the Gospel of John. Then there's the prayer of the faith community gathered in the church.
After receiving the communion, parishioners say a final prayer and then leave the church qietly. Our long preparations of fasting and praying, of doing good deeds and listening to the story of Jesus' life and death will have come to an end. And then it's time to wait.
Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening is the climax of the Triduum, the high point of liturgical year. It is time to welcome new members into the church through baptism and confirmation and Eucharist.
Liturgy begins in front of the church, and faith community gathers around the new Easter fire blessed by our pastor and used to light the Easter Paschal candle, a sign of the risen Christ in our midst throughout the year.
Once inside the church, we hear the Gospel about salvation and the good news proclaiming that Jesus is risen. We hear the great hymn, "Glory to God in the Highest," sung once again, and we all sing the great Alleluia.
The Elect or catechumens are baptized, and they join us to celebrate the new life coming into the church by gathering in front of the altar, and, finally, receiving communion.
Easter Sunday is a time to celebrate Jesus' resurrection, after His crucifixion. The message, "Christ is risen!" is echoed in all Christian churches.
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, April 1, 2015. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.