I have always considered Christmas the most festive and remembered event for the Catholic faithful. The smile worn by everyone and the series of social gatherings and reunions fill the Yuletide season with such mood for joy and happiness. Yet there is something more joyful and grand to celebrate among Catholic devotees.
A few days ago, the Roman Catholic Church observed the Holy Week and concluded with the Easter celebration. For several years, I have taken part in the observance of the Holy Week but never did I successfully attend majority of the holy rites of this season.
The Holy Week starts off with Palm Sunday celebrating Jesus’ arrival and recognizing Him as our saviour and concludes with His glorious resurrection celebrated on Easter Sunday (a week after the Palm Sunday). Throughout the course of the week several celebrations are also commemorated like the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), the Way of the Cross, Veneration of the Cross, Seven Last Words (Good Friday), Easter Vigil (Black Saturday) and “Salubong” (on the wee mornings of Easter Sunday).
Being part of one our parishes’ ministry and an active participant in the church, the responsibility of serving the Easter Vigil mass has been graciously conveyed on my hands along with several people under our parochial music ministry. This is one of the few important events that I never had the chance to witness as a Catholic.
I can say that it is so grandiose compared to the Christmas celebration and considered to be more important than the gift-giving season. The Easter Vigil celebration highlights the triumph of God over sin and death – a symbolic representation of our hope over our trials and pains through the messiah.
The mass celebration is even more festive and filled with ceremonies than I have never ever imagined. A blessing of fire as signified through the blessing of the Pascal candle (a big candle used in the rituals of Baptism) and the blessing of water (by dipping the ‘blessed’ Pascal candle on water) to produce our Holy Water.
A night filled with songs as we proclaim Jesus rising from the dead as the choir sings “Exalted” and the series of Psalms rendered by “cantors” to remember several accounts from the Old Testament on God’s unconditional love for his people.
Adult baptism is also witnessed on this night, giving the chance for non-baptized and non-Catholics to be baptized as one with the church which is concelebrated with the renewal of the baptismal vows of the once baptized congregation.
The rites on the Easter Vigil celebration may differ in minute detail from churches yet the spirit of the festivity as we remember it will be one of the greatest experiences of being a Christian and a Catholic.