The weeklong commemoration of the passion cannot be accounted for as an original practice. It is more common in Asia. The practice of commemorating the passion on a weekly basis is a modern application of an age-old practice that is too deeply rooted to be swept away. Jewish tradition, which is characterized by a sabbatical system, is largely responsible for this custom. In addition, Jews mark the passion on the first day of each month.
The Service of Shadows
Throughout the year, many Christians gather for the weeklong commemoration of Christ’s resurrection. This weeklong commemoration is a time of renewed hope, new beginnings, and renewal of life. While it commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus, it also highlights the importance of service. Here are some things you can do to make the commemoration meaningful for your congregation. Read on to learn more.
On the night before Easter Sunday, Christians in churches across the United States and many other countries around the world hold Tenebrae services. This ancient liturgy commemorates Christ’s death and resurrection. During the service, hymns and Scripture readings tell the story of Christ’s passion. As the Passion story unfolds, the candles are extinguished. The light gradually dims, until there is only one candle left in the sanctuary. Then, the light is turned off until the last candle in the sanctuary is the candle that illuminates the next three days.
General practices of Easter
In the early Church, the day of Easter was a very important one, as the celebration of Jesus’ death was combined with a pagan festival. However, in the second century, the day was still controversial and heated debates erupted about the date. In order to preserve the original biblical truths, the Quartodecimans insisted that the day of Easter should be on the fourteenth of Nisan, which was a movable date. As a result, Easter became the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover festival. Today, the day of Easter can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25, but is typically celebrated on the first Sunday following Nisan.
The first service of Easter, called the Easter Vigil, takes place on the evening of Holy Saturday. Many churches have outdoor services during which people gather to wait for the resurrection. They also light a large Easter candle that represents the coming of new life on Easter morning. The congregation then lights candles to symbolize the rebirth of Jesus. These candles are lit by members of the congregation, symbolizing their new life in following the Savior.
Differences in Scripture readings during Pentecost
The difference between the two vigil Masses for Pentecost is the selection of Scripture readings. The Pentecost vigil Mass includes separate readings from the lectionary. The readings include the gospel accounts of John 14, the resurrection of Lazarus and the baptism of Peter. The vigil Mass also offers a wider variety of readings than the main Pentecost rite.
The Pentecost events recall the deep symbolism of fire and wind throughout the Old Testament. The “wind” of God hovered over the earth at Creation, parted the waters of the Red Sea, and led the Israelites out of slavery. God first appeared to Moses in a fiery bush, and the Israelites followed a pillar of fire to the Promised Land. This imagery reminds us of the power of God’s word in the Old Testament.
As the apostles gathered in the upper room, a noise like a strong wind filled the room. The apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, began speaking in many different languages. They were speaking in tongues of fire and were joined by other Jewish pilgrims from various lands. This resemblance to the event in Acts is a major part of the celebration. When it comes to the readings of Scripture during Pentecost, many people read the same texts from different sources.
Observances during Holy Week
Observations during Holy Week celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The week begins with Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters Jerusalem amid a huge display of support from the common people. On Good Friday, his crucifix is covered in black and a wooden cross is placed in the bare chancel during the veneration of the cross ceremony. In the early Middle Ages, Christians commemorated the death and resurrection of Christ on specific days of the Hebrew calendar.
Observations during Holy Week begin with the lighting of candles during the Easter Vigil. The Vigil has four parts: the blessing of new fire and lighting of the paschal candle, procession, and singing of the Exsultet. The Easter Vigil culminates with the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist, and includes the sacraments of initiation. Adults undergo the sacrament of baptism, and children and youth are baptized or receive their first Holy Communion.