According to tradition, towards the end of her life the Blessed Virgin moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). No longer able to retrace the steps of her Son’s passion where they actually occurred, she set up an identical Stations of the Cross on her property using stones and markings. This became the first devotional Stations of the Cross. This is described in detail by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich according to her visions.
Historically, the Solemnity of the Ascension is an ancient and major feast for the Church (thus, its status as a holy day of obligation). In order to think of it and treat it with the same reverence as Christians of days past, it helps to understand it more deeply. Here are three aspects of Ascension Thursday that we can reflect on today.
For Catholics, Easter isn’t just a single day of celebration—it’s an entire season where we celebrate our new life in Christ. Just like Christmas, Easter is celebrated for an extended period of time—50 days to be exact! The feast proper is celebrated for the full octave (Easter Sunday through Easter Saturday). Then we enter Eastertide, the longer Easter season which ends on Pentecost Sunday. During this fifty days of Easter we relive the joyous events of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary—the Resurrection, Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost.
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.
Sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday is considered the most solemn part of Holy Week. This three-day period is referred to as the Easter Triduum, also known as the Sacred Triduum, or Paschal Triduum. Basically, the Sacred Triduum is one great festival recounting the last three days of Jesus’ life on earth, the events of his Passion and Resurrection. “Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery” (USCCB).
The Catholic Company is offering a new product that tells the story of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and leading up to Easter Sunday. Children open wooden eggs as they learn about the journey of Jesus, with each egg revealing the next step in His journey to the Cross and then to the Resurrection. A hardcover book beautifully narrates the story along the way. We will open one egg each day starting on Palm Sunday, although it can also be done all at once.
Jesus taught us clearly that there is no resurrection without the Cross, and Lent is the Church’s great spiritual journey as she, the Bride of Christ, joins her Divine spouse in His great suffering on our behalf. Basically, you don’t get the joy of Easter without the self-sacrifice of Lent; the disciples of Jesus follow in his footsteps . . . including the bloody ones. Here’s a rundown of everything major you need to know about the Lenten season, the 40+ days of penance to prepare our hearts Easter, the greatest of all Christian feasts.
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.
On Holy Saturday our sorrow and emptiness begin to be replaced with a growing joy about to burst forth into jubilation. Jesus’ body is in the grave, but he has promised to rise again on the third day. On this day, Holy Saturday, Jesus descended triumphantly into Hades (called the “harrowing of hell”) and brought salvation to the righteous souls held captive there who awaited their promised Messiah, as recited in the Apostle’s Creed.
Since the altar was stripped bare and the Eucharist removed from the Tabernacle on Holy Thursday, in the past good Friday was sometimes called “Long Friday.” The church seems empty and we again feel a sense of waiting. One of the most beautiful traditions of this day is the Veneration of the Cross. “While we bend down in body before the cross we bend down in spirit before God.”