By Maria G. Covarrubias
Our Lenten journey has been fruitful! We had the opportunity to be more intentional in our prayer, almsgiving, works of justice, fasting and living the cardinal virtues. Most of our parishes offered their people the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many have both received and offered forgiveness.
To become members of the Catholic Church, the Elect, children and youth (people going through the RCIA); went through the period of purification and enlightenment and the final preparations to receive the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Vigil: Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion.
Beginning with Palm Sunday, we experienced the richness of the events of Holy Week. Two days later our Bishop celebrated the Chrism Mass in which he blessed the three oils that will be used next year anointing: the Oil of Catechumens for those who seek Jesus in the conversion; the Oil to Anoint the Sick, and the Chrism Oil that will be used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Orders.
During Holy Week, we experienced the highest point of this season: the Paschal Mystery or Triduum. The Paschal Mystery is the essence of the Catholic experience. Jesus reveals the profound purpose of the human existence. Life means suffering, death and resurrection. Salvation consists of the death and resurrection.
On Holy Thursday we remembered the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. On Good Friday, one of the most significant days of the entire Church calendar, we unite our sufferings with Christ’s passion. The book Bringing Lent Home with Mother Teresa, offers this reflection of Mother Teresa on suffering, “Suffering in itself is nothing; but suffering shared with Christ’s passion is a wonderful gift. Yes, a gift and sign of His love; because this is how His Father proved He loved the world - by giving His Son to die for us.”
Holy Saturday was all about waiting, sorrow, prayer and silence. Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and was sealed away in the tomb. Our churches are bare after having been stripped of everything. No Masses are celebrated from the Mass of the Last Supper until the Easter Vigil. We mourned and waited; and now what?
The Easter Vigil begins at the dawn of Holy Saturday in darkness. The priest blesses and ignites the fire that will light the new Easter Candle. This Easter Candle represents the risen Christ entering the church victorious and lighting the candles held by the congregation until the whole church shines with light. Jesus rose from the dead and has conquered sin and evil!
Easter Sunday completes the Paschal Mystery. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us: “Christ’s Resurrection is not an event of the past. Christ’s Resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds for the Kingdom of God, even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the Resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain.”
Christ is risen! Christ lives! Alleluia!
Take time to reflect on you Lenten experience. What did you gain? What did you lose? Write down a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for this journey and his accompaniment toward his Resurrection.
Maria G. Covarrubias is Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.