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The Southern Cross : April 2012
Page 14 April 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross The Easter Vigil is the most important celebration of the entire Christian year. Jenny O'Brien from the Office for Worship explains how the symbols used in this celebration speak to our hearts and our senses in a most profound way, expressing without words the meaning of the great feast of Easter. Each year we light the Paschal Candle, the primary symbol of Easter, from the purifying flame of the new fire, rekindling hope in our hearts in Christ the Redeemer, shining as the Light of the World. On the Paschal Candle are other symbols: the cross and five grains of incense to show the intrinsic link between Christ's death and resurrection; the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha and omega), to remind us that redemption encompasses all time, past, present and future, and the numerals of the current year to plant us firmly in the reality of today. This year, when the priest carries the candle into the church he will sing new words, "The Light of Christ," to which we will respond with our familiar, "Thanks be to God." The second great symbol of Easter is water, since the Easter Vigil is the feast of baptism, both for those elected for baptism (the Elect) who have journeyed along the path of Christian Initiation for Adults and for all the faithful who renew their baptismal promises at this time. Water should be in generous supply as the Elect are baptised -- either by full immersion in a suitably prepared pool, or by amply pouring over the head -- and later as the faithful are sprinkled with the newly-blessed holy water. It is in dying with Christ in the waters of Baptism that we are reborn to new life, emerging as a new creation by "putting on Christ" -- symbolised by the white garment and the baptismal candle. It is very appropriate that during the weeks between Easter and Pentecost parishes use the optional Sprinkling Rite in place of the Penitential Act, to impress on us the extraordinary change that Baptism brings about in us and to remind us of our baptismal promise to take up the mission and ministry of Christ in our own lives. The third of the Easter symbols is holy oil. At the Chrism Mass each year the archbishop blesses the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens (sometimes called 'oil of baptism') which will be used in the parishes throughout the year and consecrates the sacred Chrism which is used in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and the consecration of a Church or altar. Oil symbolises both healing and strength, but the sacred chrism carries with it the added significance of royalty and vocation. Anointing with chrism acknowledges that we share in the royal, priestly and prophetic offices of Christ. We are marked as being forever members of Christ who is priest, prophet and king. The final symbol of Easter is the bread and wine -- gifts given and then received as the body and blood of Christ during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the culmination of the Easter Vigil. The community of the faithful, which for the first time includes the newly-initiated, the faithful, joins with Christ in offering the sacrifice "for the praise and glory of God's name, for our good and the good of his holy Church." The symbols of light, water, oil, bread and wine that are highlighted during the Easter Vigil are the same symbols used throughout the year in the Church's sacraments, reminding us that it is the Paschal Mystery -- Christ's death, resurrection, and return to the Father -- that is at the heart of our faith. We are CHRIST-ians. Let us use the symbols of Easter generously and let them draw us more and more into the mystery of God's love that is redemption. Visit www.adelaide.catholic.org.au/sites/ OfficeforWorship Each year on the first Sunday after Easter, hundreds of thousands of Catholics around the world spend an afternoon of devotion, veneration and reconciliation to celebrate the Divine Mercy Feast Day. Here we look at the story of the Polish nun who inspired this significant day in the Diocesan calendar. Saint Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in a small village west of Lodz, Poland on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten children. When she was almost 20, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the care and education of troubled young women. In the 1930s Jesus appeared to Sr Faustina, giving her a series of revelations which are contained in her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul. The diary states that Jesus asked that a Feast be established on the first Sunday after Easter and told her that "my heart rejoices in this Feast" and promised that the soul that goes to Confession and receives Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. "On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened," Sr Faustina wrote in her diary. Only her spiritual director and some of her superiors were aware that anything special was taking place in her life. After her death from tuberculosis in 1938, even her closest associates were amazed as they began to discover what great sufferings and deep mystical experiences had been given to this Sister, who had always been so cheerful and humble. She had taken deeply into her heart, God's gospel command to "be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful" as well as her confessor's directive that she should act in such a way that everyone who came in contact with her would go away joyful. The late Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II, was instrumental in promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion throughout his pontificate. He proclaimed the Feast of Divine Mercy on April 30 2000, the same day he canonised Sr Faustina as the first saint for the new millennium and granted a plenary indulgence to the devout observance of this Feast Day. On August 17, 2002, he solemnly entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy. As if to stress its importance, Blessed John Paul II died on April 2, 2005 on the vigil of the Divine Mercy Feast Day in Rome. On the Feast Day last year he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. More info: John Luttrell 8210 8220 or Mary Bugeja 8210 8123. 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