By Deacon Gregory M. Kirk
Saint Joseph Catholic Church, Galion
Standing on the brink of the most holy week of the year for Christians, I’m filled with excitement and treasuring the miracle of Easter, anew. When Jesus rose from the dead, His triumph became our triumph. Nothing can defeat or overwhelm one who believes. Even physical death will not have the last word. For those who hope and believe in Christ, Christ will have the last word. The last word is resurrection. The last word is life.
Christ’s people are quickly moving, this week, toward the Easter Tridiuum. Tridiuum means “three days.” The Easter Tridiuum consist of Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday as some term it), Good Friday, and Easter. From ancient times, these three days have been observed as “one long service.” During the Tridiuum, believers everywhere will step outside of physical time and experience mystical, saving events. We will sit with Jesus on the last evening of His life and watch Him promise to remain with us in the Eucharist. We will watch Him lower Himself to the floor, with a basin of water, to wash our feet in order to teach us that love and service are the essence of life. We will stand by helpless, as He is scourged, and forced to labor with His cross to Golgotha. We will see Him hang upon a tree, and give up His last breath after forgiving His persecutors. And finally, we will stand in wonder at the empty tomb, with angels as our witnesses, and remember His promise that He would rise in three days.
I love the religious services that I will participate in this week. They speak to the deepest part of who I am - they enable me to face life, and death, knowing that I am in the hands of the Lord of history. The One who is Christ.
This Saturday evening, Catholic Christians will gather outside the church building at dusk, as the sun sets, and daylight begins to give way to darkness. A fire will be lit, and the deacon will hold the Paschal Candle over the fire, and the priest will light it from the fire. The priest will insert two symbols of the Greek alphabet into the face of the candle, and then intone, “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End. The Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to Him, and all the ages. To Him be glory and power through every age forever.”
After the opening prayers have been said, the Paschal Candle will be carried into the church. No lights will be on. A single candle flame will stand out, surrounded by blackness. When I gaze at the flame of that candle, flickering alone, in the dark, I will once again embrace the reality it points to: all of the hate, all of the depravity, all of the sin, all of the evil, in this world, even death itself, could not overwhelm, or overcome the Light Who is Christ.
He is Risen. And our lives will never be the same.
To God be the glory.