On Holy Thursday, John snapped this photo of Vince and I before we left for Mass. Vincent was holding Chase, his stuffed German Shepherd. He's gotten incredibly attached to him the last few weeks, and I admit I sorta love that. He's never had a toy that he MUST have with him at all times. Chase is his best pal now, and he always wants him wherever he is.
For Mass, he was well-behaved. We were very close to the front because I wanted to explain everything to him... especially the washing of the feet. However, I was SO incredibly disheartened to see only three men come forward to have their feet washed. The rest were women.
Two or three e-mails were sent out by our Director of Religious Education practically begging people to volunteer for this role. Only three men could be found? THREE?
How incredibly sad. What does this say about the men of our parish?
As I explained in this entry, the Washing of the Feet is an act that goes well beyond proving Jesus' humility. It was an act of preparation for His apostles - the first priests of the Church. Only after washing their feet and charging them with serving one another so fully did Christ then instruct them in the Eucharistic Prayer. Only then were they to take part in the first Mass.
Mother Church requires the feet of men to be washed because of the incredible symbolic nature of this act. It's why many old-school parishes wash the feet of retired priests. How blessed is the parish that recognizes that the rituals we still take part in can be educational as well as prayerful! Should all parishes be so lucky.
On Good Friday, Vincent was pretty exhausted by the time our services rolled around. I took him in early so he could see Jesus in the place of repose. I answered his questions, but he surprised me again by how much he understood.
He said, "Jesus died, right Mommy?"
I said, "Yes, Vincent, and the Church is very sad."
He asked, "But He's in Heaven, right?"
I said, "That's right. And He's going to bring us to Heaven, too."
Then he said, "But I don't want to go to Heaven. They don't have toys."
I laughed and said, "Heaven is more fun than Ocean City!"
He looked at me, incredulous, because to his four-year-old mind, nothing could possibly be more fun than the Boardwalk, curly fries and roller coasters.
Midway during the service, he nodded off to sleep right in the pew, clutching Chase under his coat.
After the service, two kind elderly folks came up to us separately to express their appreciation for Vincent's presence the last two days (Holy Thursday and Good Friday). One woman commented that she loved how he says, "Jesus, I love you" when the newly consecrated Host is elevated and the gentleman said he liked that Vincent behaved and genuflected before the altar.
I truly puffed up with so much pride and appreciation then. I'm always so worried that I'm not doing enough to teach him about how beautiful our Faith is. Truth is, I'm not. That being said, I know that God is making up for my inadequacies and is patiently leading Vince by the hand. It makes me so incredibly happy to have reminders like that, especially given the difficult week we'd had at school.
On Easter Sunday, Vince was not a big fan of Jesus' when I reminded him that after his egg-hunting, he needed to get ready for Mass. I knew it'd be tough getting him on board, but as always, once he was in the car, he was perfectly fine.
My niece, Alliya, even ended up coming along with my MIL.
We went to a parish that I've only been to once before, and it was completely by accident that we arrived there. I've STILL got a terrible taste in my mouth from their Mass.
The tabernacle is off to the side (I hate that), the priest was omitting things left and right (whether on purpose or not, I honestly don't know, so I'm hoping it was accidental), the parishioners who sat to the right of us were incredibly rude (but they might not have been regulars) and the whole set-up felt very, very... New Age-y? I dunno. I just got a terribly off feeling and it left me unsettled until we were about half-way home.
Alliya was asking me all sorts of questions as I took them around the church to show them the various statues and sacramentals. We had gotten there early, so to burn energy and utilize a built-in theology lesson, I took them on a quick tour. Alliya had so many smart questions (questions which Vincent jumped in to answer at points!). One of her questions was about Jesus being in the tabernacle. When I explained that we genuflected to Jesus who remained hidden in the tabernacle, Alliya became confused. She wanted to know how He fit, if He was a ghost, etc (she has basically no catechesis whatsoever). These are all smart and valid questions! So I explained as simply as I could without confusing her further.
I said because He is God, He can take on whatever form He wants. Because He loves us so much, He decided to look like Bread so He could personally feed us, Himself. Thus, because He appeared so small, He could fit into the tabernacle until the priest opened the door at Communion time.
She seemed to accept this answer, but when we got back to the pew, she asked if she would have to SEE Jesus. The concept of seeing someone she only knew as dead was understandably scary to her. She doesn't get that Jesus is God. She only knows that He's someone we celebrate at Christmas but He died a long time ago and went to Heaven.
Anyway, this thought scared her, so she kept asking me if she'd see the Consecrated Hosts.
I simply said, "Alliya, Jesus is not scary. He loves you so, so much. He has a real body, just like you and I. He's the one who sent you your Mommy and Daddy who love you so much. He made sure you had a Mi-Mom and Pop to take you fun places. He makes sure all your family and friends are nice. All the good things in your life are because of Him. He's not scary... He's the nicest person in the whole universe!"
Vincent emphatically agreed with me, but Alliya didn't seem to believe me. Again, I don't fault her for this. She hasn't had any religious education. Hopefully one day she will, but even if she doesn't, when she asks me for the truth, I will always give it to her.
But to end with something amusing, on Holy Thursday, after Jesus was placed into the side repository, we waited our turn to go up to say a prayer. When we reached the kneelers, Vincent looked at the small tabernacle holding the ciborium and asked, "Mommy, how do we get Jesus' trophy?"
Ha ha. Nice.
Also, the veils pictured in this blog are from Veils by Lily and Liturgical Time respectively.
EDIT: I encourage everyone to read through the commentary as well. So many great points have been raised that are worthy of your attention. They are critical of my viewpoint, but deservedly so. I think this is an extremely worthwhile discussion, so please avail yourselves of the various perspectives. And as always - don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His Thoughts, either! *Grin*
Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, Pope Francis made the decision to have the Mass of the Lord's Supper outside St. Peter's Basilica this Holy Thursday.
I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
I can't help but think he's a little too gung-ho with this whole "Let's toss all tradition aside so I can prove to the public that as the newly elected leader of the Church, I turn away from finer things and ignore past traditions" in an attempt to regain the trust of a very jaded and unhappy world.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
Holy Father, I'm praying for you because you've got quite the job to do. I pray you're able to clean up the mess you've been left and I'm still hoping your intentions on this are pure and true. Your decision, however, has truly, truly unsettled me. My heart is not at ease.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
And also keep in mind Our Lord's appreciation for the woman's actions at Bethany. She poured the entire contents of extremely expensive perfume over Christ to anoint Him. Judas grumbled at her "wastefulness," but Jesus defended her for her actions. She was blessed with something special by God, and she wanted to give back without thought to cost. She simply wanted to offer the finest of what she had to He who had given her so much.
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.
So this question came up both in my CCD class and in an open forum for adults last week.
I wasn't surprised to see it in my CCD class. They're sixth grades. However, I was surprised that it cropped up in the forum from a well-versed Catholic adult!
So I figured I'd share my answer here since it's a more prevalent question than I'd realized.
We technically have the Romans to thank for the title of "Good Friday."
See, back when the St. Paul started preaching the "good news" of Jesus Christ, there was another word you might be familiar with in constant use... "gospel."
Before us Christians usurped it as our own, the word "gospel" had a very specific connotation. Since Rome enjoyed conquering every community known to man, they were frequently in far-off places fighting a variety of different people. As a result, they needed fast couriers to let the various generals (and Caesar) know if they were winning or needed backup.
When these couriers skitted back to the capital with news of a victory, they called it the "euangelion" (which is actually the Greek word for evangelization or "bringing good news"). The good news was victory for the people. Oddly enough, it also referenced the official laws and privileges that these new Roman citizens could be assured of if they played nice and followed Roman authority. That, in turn, was the actual "gospel."
So apply this knowledge to what our Christian gospel actually is. St. Paul describes it best as the death and resurrection of Jesus. From the Throne of the Cross, Christ defeated the enemy and assured salvation for those who would accept His Authority. It makes perfect sense, then, why we would consider that first Good Friday to be "Good." It was the true trumpet of humanity's "gospel." That act secured for us victory in addition to the privileges that come with being a child of God.
As the years went on, this word was picked up and converted into "Godspel." It was a Germanic combination of "God / good" and "story / message." That's why most of us today understand the word to mean "Good News." Originally, however, it meant an entire group of people were welcomed into the fold with privileges and rewards so long as they agreed to abide by the authority of the one who conquered their territory.
In other words, Jesus came to earth, conquered it through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and gained for us the inheritance of eternal life so long as we submit to His Will (which is nothing more than loving one another as He, Himself, has loved).
I took Vincent with me to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. I'm so glad I did. My mom had originally wanted to watch him for me, but I declined because I really wanted him to witness such a special Mass.
I know some people think it's silly to take young kids to Mass. The argument is that they don't really understand what's going on and are more of a distraction than anything else to others who are attending. I get that. I used to leave Vincent at home for those same reasons. However, after coming to understand what a benefit it is bringing him with me (religious education and formation, exercising patience, and being in the Presence of Jesus), I couldn't imagine leaving him home for the celebration of the Mass from which all other Masses would follow, emulate and unite with.
When he realized where we were going, he pitched a fit, of course. However, as soon as we got into the family room, he nestled against me and relaxed quietly for the rest of the Mass. He was content to stay on my lap, which amazed the elderly couple in the room with us (sparse crowd - *sigh*).
Anyway, as Father knelt to clean the feet of the 12, I wondered how each one of them felt as he approached them. I wondered what the Apostles had thought and felt as Christ approached them, considering that the act of washing feet was considered beneath even a Jewish slave's dignity. Obviously St. Peter recoiled in horror at the thought, and no doubt the other apostles probably tried to get Christ off His Knees, but that act of Ordination must have been completed to prepare them for the serving role they'd take on as priests.
Yet they wouldn't understand that until Pentecost. Not until the grace of the Holy Spirit removed the veil from their eyes would they realize what this act meant for them.
So as Father Piotr put his chausable back on, I choked back tears, realizing that Christ must've put on his outer garments in much the same manner - what were the Apostles thinking at that moment?
Anyway, after the Eucharistic celebration, as the lights were dimmed and the Procession towards the place of repose completed, people started shuffling out of the Church. As the lights went out, one by one, and the sanctuary was emptied of its candles, furniture and linens, Vincent's little voice asked, "What happened?"
Actually, it sounds more like "Bah bappened?" but the point is, he understood that something very special was taking place and wanted to know why it was happening.
All I could think to answer in a hushed whisper was, "Jesus sacrificed Himself. He died so we could live."
May the rest of your Triduum be blessed.
For Good Friday, I was lucky enough to find a parish that offered Confession for two hours before noon.
The church was barren, save for an empty wooden cross crowned with a ring of thorns. I wanted to kiss the cross as I waited for confession, but it was in the sanctuary so I could not.
This church had also removed all the kneelers which I thought was interesting. I didn't mind kneeling on the floor and thought it was a good idea that we could now offer up this slight mortification in union with Christ.
All the fonts were either empty of draped in purple. It almost felt wrong that the sunlight poured in through the gorgeous stained glass windows. Did nature somehow forget that Jesus was suffering death? Did the sun forget that we were to remember His Passion today?
No - nature didn't forget. That same sun shone down upon Christ as He followed the Via Dolorosa. That burning sun tried so hard to light His way... to warm His Body that must've been shivering dreadfully for lack of Blood. It poured its rays of warmth over Our Lady to offer her even the simplest of condolences. It offered itself to the people - the same people who angrily kicked, spit upon and mocked the Savior. If the sun could think, would it have let loose torrential solar flares in an effort to enlighten these ignorant people that they were cruelly murdering the innocent and mighty Hand of Creation? Would it have spun faster to strengthen its gravitational pull in order to pull its God closer to itself in a protective embrace?
That sun - our sun - was the same sun that shone down on Christ's hanging Body upon the Cross. It didn't forget... maybe it just knows better than we do the power of Christ's resurrection and wants to remind us that though our hearts are black with grief, His Light will prevail and will work Itself into even the darkest of tombs.
Then I began thinking about Our Lady and the grief she must've carried along that same trail of tears. To stand at the foot of His Cross and to fully understand that this was the Sacrifice she was born to offer in union with Her Son... incredible. The same Baby she cradled in her arms and nursed at her breast... the same Child who picked her wild flowers and proudly crafted His first wood project into a gift for her... the same Man who she watched heal, love and unite - now she watched His final, passionate act of Love during His earthly Life.
I cannot even imagine that pain. When I think of the Blessed Mother and the other women who were forced to watch their children be sacrificed (for early martyrs, this was common- to endure witnessing the torture and death of your children before being killed yourself) my heart nearly stops. My breath always catches because as a mother, I cannot help but put Vincent's face on each of those children. I cannot help but imagine my own indescribable terror, pain and fury as I was shackled to a wall to endure Vincent's agonizing torture, unable to help, comfort or avenge him. Would I be able to offer our suffering up to God as Mary did?
And I do think of this often. I can't help myself, especially with the increasing amounts of political pressure being built up against the Catholics not only in this country, but all around the world.
It's no secret that Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world (actually, it might be in the US where many assume it's Islam). Also, since I subscribe to VOM's monthly newsletter, the reality of this problem is often in my thoughts.
My husband has often questioned why I continue reading these things as they tend to make me upset. I respond that my ignorance doesn't help, and at the very least, these folks deserve to have people aware of their plight... even if the only thing we can do is offer prayers for them. I'm not willing to ignore the suffering of others in order to spare myself a few sleepless nights. It doesn't seem right.
I won't lie - there have been times where I've wanted to put down books or newsletters. I've wanted to ignore particular headlines because of the emotional stress I'd end up with, but I typically end up reading on. I have to. How would I feel if someone ignored me? How would I feel if someone had the ability to help me and shut the door because it was just "too painful" to even acknowledge my pain's existence?
It's why I forced myself to endure learning about the different methods of abortion. For weeks I'd burst into tears, dropping to my knees to beg God to force us to stop these heinous murders. I didn't care if that meant the world would end, I just wanted the suffering of these innocent children to stop. This was actually during a period that John tried "forbidding" me from accessing the internet. Heh - he knew he couldn't really forbid me, and I doubt he wanted to, but he was so upset for me that he didn't know what else to do. He didn't understand why I kept trying to learn more about abortions. He said, "You know they happen, and you learning about how they happen isn't going to make abortions happen less."
I said, "You're right. My understanding won't stop abortions because I already made the decision to never participate, but I bet if others who haven't made that decision learned about abortion it would happen less!"
And it's true - so many people who are "pro-choice" really don't understand all that goes into an actual abortion. For all the philosophical waxing pro-choicers do, they never once get into the hard-science of what an abortion physically does to both a child and the mother who carries it.
But I digress. Sorry!
Back to Good Friday. After confession, I went to my own Church for the silent prayer before the Crucifix before 3pm when the statue was veiled. I tried to imagine how God the Father felt - He willingly handed Jesus over. He understood that His Sacrifice was necessary, but the cost! How much He loves us to do this!
Would I be willing to hand over Vincent for such a slaughter?
I mean, let's say that 1 million people were in jail. I'm not talking about the US jail system that allows inmates to watch TV, hang out in a cell, and be provided with 3 meals a day.
No... I'm talking about a hellish, hard labor camp akin to Auschwitz or worse.
Now let's say these million people aren't just random strangers... they're family. Yes, they are family that's guilty of every offense possible ranging from cursing all the way through murder, but they're family. Would I be willing to sacrifice Vincent for the lot of them?
Let's take it one step further... let's say these million family members aren't just distance relationships. They're a million Maria's and Shannon's... a million Raymond's and yes, even a million Evelyn's... my true brothers and sisters. What then? Would I be willing to hand Vincent over to save them?
And finally - even more than being my brothers and sisters - what if they were my children? What if these jailed souls were my children? Would I be able to hand over Vincent, my first, only and beloved son over for a torturous death so that they might be freed from jail?
What if I knew that even if I offered Vincent's life for theirs that they'd ridicule our sacrifice? That they'd scorn him?
How could God the Father ever consent to this sacrifice??? How could Christ, knowing full well what the future would hold for His wayward children???
Yes, we indeed crucified the entire Trinity that first Good Friday. We continue to crucify Them each time we are negligent in our duties as Christians... as dignified human beings made in His Image.
May God have mercy on us, and may we remember the Love shown to us through the truest Sacrifice ever made.
Over at Why I am Catholic, someone asked how to deal with the confusion regarding Christ's "less than 3 days" resurrection. Basically folks who bring this up make the argument that the Resurrection of Christ is contrary to the Bible in that Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Sunday morning - not 3 days like "He was supposed to."
People tend to forget that Christ's actual Passion began on Holy Thursday. At the moment of Consecration, Jesus gave His consent to the Father regarding the sacrificial role He was about to embark upon. That moment is the spark that began His Passion.
His Agony in the Garden followed in which He prayed for the full repentance of ALL sinners, most especially Judas, I bet.
From there He felt the betrayal of Judas and the violence of the guards who shackled Him and bullied Him along the path towards Caiaphas. He was spat upon, kicked, beaten and humiliated every step of the way. Each blow that fell upon Him, each indignity, He offered up in atonement for our sins. The trials (both the midnight one and the ones before Pilate / Herod) were also full of beatings, spittal, indignations and brutality.
People always forget that Holy Thursday was very much a part of Christ's Passion, not just the horror of Good Friday. Christ suffered so much more than we can ever fully realize, and lopping off Holy Thursday tends to make that even easier for us.
And if anyone tries to argue against that, just remind them that Christ gave us the Mass that night through the Institution of both the Eucharist and the Priesthood. We can't have the Eucharist without the death / resurrection of Christ (which is what the Eucharist celebrates). Since Christ is God - timeless and unconstrained by that 4th dimensional reality - His Sacrifice was already fully present through His consent to God the Father.
Just as the Mass today brings us front and center to the true foot of the Cross, that first Mass then also brought the Apostles to the Cross before they even understood they'd be fleeing from it in fear.
This image is incredible!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know I promised to answer Laura's question yesterday, but as soon as I buckled down to write, I got a call from Vincent's daycare. Poor little guy has a tummy bug, so I needed to pick him up and take him home.
Today, however, Daddy's with him. That means Mommy can answer Laura in peace!
Anyway, in order to understand the answer, I must first explain what the Triduum is. For Catholics, the Triduum is the holiest time in our Liturgical Calendar. It is the most important part of Salvation History as Christ, in those three days, fulfilled the promise of God when He said He would send a Savior who would reconcile humanity to Himself.
The Triduum, thus, becomes Holy Thursday Mass (when we remember the Last Supper), Holy Saturday (when we remember Christ's descent into Hell), through the Easter Vigil and Easter celebrations (when we remember His Glorious Resurrection and triumph over Death).
Anyway, since this is the most sacred part of the year for the Church - the finite point in linear history that somehow encapsulates the timeless Sacrifice of Christ - our Liturgy reflects our solemn, adoring and anguished spirit. We see ourselves, the Church, as dying WITH Christ.
This is also why throughout Lent, things are slowly removed from our Masses. Statues are draped (or even removed), fewer candles are lit, our beautiful "Alleluia" is laid to rest, and floral arrangements are typically absent.
As I explained to my children, something very special happens after Holy Thursday Mass. The priest removes Christ from the tabernacle and processes with Him to a place of repose. This signifies that Christ has begun His Sacrifice (which truly did begin with the moment of Consecration at the Last Supper - more on that in a bit).
The Mass on Holy Thursday does not "end." There is no "Go forth" or "Thanks be to God." There is only the procession of Christ to His place of repose and the silent, prayerful adoration of the faithful that stay watch with Him as He endures His Passion (akin to the Apostles as Christ led them to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch as He began His Agony in the Garden).
In fact, to further this point, after the Procession, the Church is stripped bare. Linens are removed from the pulpit, altar, tabernacle, etc. Furniture (like chairs, microphones, lecterns, etc) are taken into the sacristy. Candles aren't just snuffed out - they are removed entirely. Carpets are rolled away. Remaining statues may be taken down. Every movable object is taken away from our sanctuary and all lights (be they candles, spot-lights or chandeliers) are deadened. Our Church, symbolic of the spirit of all the faithful who create Her, dies with Her Master. He who is the Light of the World is consenting to become obscured and entombed.
As His faithful Spouse, we acknowledge our desolation... our mourning... our grief.
On Good Friday, there is "no Mass." Again, this is because technically, the Mass from Holy Thursday has not ended - nor will it until the close of the Vigil on Holy Saturday. Instead, we continue the Mass through Stations of the Cross, Adoration, communal and private meditation, recitation of the Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries), Tenebrae etc.
This is to signify that we, the Church, the faithful Bride of Christ, follow Him on His Path towards Salvation. We consent to die with Him in order to take part in His Resurrection.
This moves us to Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, we remember in a special way Christ's descent into Hell, Limbo and Purgatory. We remember His Triumphant opening of the Gates of Heaven that were closed against us as a result of Original Sin. There is actually no "liturgy" for Holy Saturday until the vigil. This is a continuation of Christ's Sacrifice which began during Holy Thursday.
Finally, we arrive at our Easter Vigil. This special vigil is held after sundown. This is significant because this darkness is indicative of the spiritual darkness we are experiencing as we await the Light of the World. Again, this vigil does not start with the typical "opening Mass prayers" we're used to. Instead, the priest blesses a special fire which is typically made of Holy Oils from the previous year, salt, and twigs. This special fire is the first light we see and is symbolic of the Resurrection. This light is what's used to light our brand new Paschal Candle (the Christ Candle), and after the Candle is lit, the light begins to spread throughout the Church, from member to member, as a flame is passed between individual candles all are given at the opening of Mass.
As a sacristan who has been at the front of the Church awaiting the Exsultet (when we flip on all the lights, light all the candles, and bust out all the finery we've got to offer), seeing this light slowly spread throughout the entire Church... it's incredible.
Anyway, this is the point in the Liturgical Calendar in which we celebrate and acknowledge Christ's Triumph over Death. The Sacrifice has been complete and Salvation has been granted to us. Through His Offering, we have become reconciled and all the promises of God the Father to His Creation regarding the Messiah have been fulfilled. We rejoice in being reborn through His Death and Resurrection.
As THIS VIGIL MASS commences, we finally are able to hear again the priest's command to "Go Forth" and respond with a jubilant "Thanks be to God!" We acknowledge that the sacred Triduum that marks Christ's Sacrifice has reached its fulfillment, and we take our charge to "Go Forth" with zeal. We are charged to take the message of Salvation to all people who still "live in darkness."
So that, dear Laura, is why the answer to number 11 on the test was "One." There is but one Mass celebrated over 3 days during the Triduum.
As these three days recall the three long days of Christ's consummation by the Fire of His Love, we, too, offer these three days in solidarity with Him.
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