Monday, March 25, 2013

What the Heck is Holy Week?

When one thinks of Christians and their religious celebrations, one tends to think of Christmas as the ultimate Christian holiday. In fact, they're wrong.

As a Catholic Christian, I really am an Easter person. Huh? What do I mean by that? Catholics celebrate Easter each and every week at Mass. Easter is all about the sacrifices and Resurrection of Jesus. Each week at Mass, Catholics receive Communion which celebrates and makes real for us Christ's resurrection. Not all Christian religions celebrate Communion each week; for many it is reserved for only certain times per year.

Bustedhalo is a great Youtube channel that explains Christian religious practices or beliefs in highly visual, brief clips. Below is the one for Holy Week, the final week of Lent which is also the week before Easter.
Holy Week is an especially reflective week of Lent. Christians contemplate the sacrifices Jesus made for us, the betrayal he must have felt by Judas' actions, as well as the promise of everlasting life for us. Easter Day ends the Lenten period. Easter is coming out of the darkness of Lent and into the celebration of Life and light.

I especially love the fact that on Easter we sing Hallelujah again after the forty days of Lent where we do not say it. My father used to joke that we didn't say Hallelujah during Lent because on Easter, when you could finally eat/drink/do whatever you gave up, you would say "Hallelujah!" Actually, it is much cooler than that.

During Lent, we are focusing on the "Kingdom coming" (Jesus' resurrection), but rather than the fact the Kingdom already came. As my priest wrote: "The readings in the Masses for Lent and in the Liturgy of the Hours focus heavily on the spiritual journey of Old Testament Israel toward the coming of Christ, and the salvation of mankind in His death and resurrection. We, too, are on a spiritual journey, toward the Second Coming and our future life in Heaven. In order to emphasize that journey, the Church, during Lent, removes the Alleluia from the Mass. We no longer sing with the choirs of angels; instead, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do."

Hallelujah returns to the Mass on Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil -- a Mass in which I almost never attend because it is sooooo long -- because Jesus has risen. I enjoy the Hallelujah on Easter Sunday.

Hallelujah indeed. A version of this was originally published at Crasstalk

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