Easter is a glorious time to be Catholic. There is nothing more wonderful than to participate in than the various liturgies of the Easter Triduum, the holiest time of year. This is the solemn three-day period, from the night of Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil, when the Church accompanies her Savior in His Passion, death, and resurrection.
Painting Easter eggs is a beloved ancient tradition for Eastern Catholic churches as well as Orthodox. The eggs are often dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. The Easter eggs are then carried to the church in baskets to be blessed by the priest at the end of the Easter vigil before being distributed to the faithful. Historically, Christians would abstain from eating eggs during a strict Lent, so Easter was the first chance to eat eggs again after a long period of abstinence. The egg represented the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represented Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
What is so interesting about watching scenes of violence and death in parades or movies during Holy Week? Well, that is a legitimate question that non-Christians might ask themselves. But, there is a good answer. Since we live in an era when customs and traditions have faded and tend to lose their meaning, it’s good to remind ourselves that, concluding the spiritual preparation of Lent, Holy Week is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Christ. It’s not just another religious tradition. We aren’t celebrating the fact that the Son of God suffered and died, but Catholics are recognizing and honoring His sacrifice, accompanying Him spiritually and physically, as if we had been there with Him, two thousand years ago.
Are you looking for a Patron Saint or heavenly intercessor? We receive emails nearly every week asking how to go about choosing a Patron Saint. Not everyone has a given name that is both Christian and shared with a heavenly protector. Your Name Saint is a beginning, but having other Patron Saints is a beautiful way to grow in the Faith.
The Saints are an incredible treasure of the Church, and they are our heavenly family. They have walked where we walk, and they have lived the struggles of this world. They rejoice as they await our arrival in eternity, and they share in the desire to help us reach heaven. Most Catholics have numerous “favorites” and patrons.
Towards the end of Lent you may notice purple cloths draped over crucifixes, statues, and images of saints in your church. In some churches, these items are actually removed from the sanctuary altogether.
This old custom of veiling religious images is a way of focusing on the penitential aspect of this liturgical season. It reminds us in a visual way that our faith is made possible only through the work of Christ in his suffering and death on the cross.
Penance simply means the repentance of sins by taking some form of action in reparation for that sin. Just as we sinned by actually committing or omitting something we shouldn’t have, so we should do penance by actually committing or omitting something to make up for it. The reason for this is that doing penance turns our hearts and souls away from sin and back on the right path towards God and towards a life of holiness.
Fr. Leo Patalinghug is a man on a mission to share with families around the world a simple truth: that gathering together to celebrate a special event with a (delicious!) shared meal is a powerful tool that positively impacts the family bond.
Establishing and perpetuating these family traditions transmits values across generations and creates a shared culture that unites individuals. Sadly, this is something that is being increasingly lost, especially in our American culture. “People are just not acting like a family anymore, they’re never together,” says Fr. Leo.
In Latin America it is a strong tradition to celebrate Lent in a deep and vivid way. It is often characterized by reviving the Passion of Christ through dramatizations and processions in the main streets. Thousands of people, old and young, join in the celebrations that last late into the night.
There are also many other cultural traditions associated with Lent. If you are a Latino, here is a fun list that you may find familiar!
There is a cost to driving a car. If we never go in for tune up, or if we fail to fix problems that arise, our car will ultimately fail us. Most things in life that are valuable to us “cost” us something.
That made me think about my spiritual life: are there “costs” to a good spiritual life?
Lent reminds us that being a Christian is worth something, and that it should cost something as well. The Church in her wisdom has given us days of abstinence and penance, and although we could never pay back Christ what has done for us (and we aren’t being asked to) we can unite ourselves to Him and draw nearer to His cross.
Lent is the time of spiritual preparation prior to the Easter season, just as Advent is for Christmas.
“Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Here’s a rundown of everything major you need to know about the Lenten season, the 40 days of preparation before the greatest of all Christian feasts: Easter.