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The Meaning of Easter

Father George Asigre explains the significance of the holiest of ­Christian holidays

Father Asigre, right, prepares communion. <<photo by Kitt O’Brien>>

For every Christian church, the six weeks of Lent are a time of preparation. On Easter morning, worshippers arrive at a church burst out in celebration.

Bay Weekly You’re celebrating your first Easter at Severna Park’s St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish …

Father Asigre I’ve been a diocesan priest for 25 years, mostly in my native Ghana. In 2015 I came on sabbatical to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and I’ve been working in different parishes while training at Johns Hopkins to be a hospital chaplain.

Bay Weekly This is a big time for all Christians, as well as for the Roman Catholic Church …
Father Asigre Easter is Christianity’s most sacred time, even more so than Christmas. Easter gives Christmas its significance. Easter preparation began six weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, when we fasted and marked our foreheads with crosses of ash. Ashes symbolize our fragility and remind us to turn away from pride. We then continued Lent as a time of reflection, almsgiving, self-denial and penance, a chance to shed the sin that keeps us in bondage.

Bay Weekly Is the spirit of Lent reflected in the church?
Father Asigre Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent praying in the desert, being tempted by Satan. In general, the season is solemn. We are retracing the steps of Christ during a time of turmoil. Thus vases of sticks adorn our altar. Wooden crosses are draped in purple, the color of Lent. Later in Lent, some churches remove or cover the statues.

Bay Weekly And in people what is happening?
Father Asigre We are all striving to experience spiritual renewal, to deepen our relationship with God and find joy in living the faith.

Bay Weekly The tone changes in the eight days of Holy Week, leading up to Easter Sunday …
Father Asigre On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, we reenact Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem, waving palm fronds as followers did then. Jesus has come out into the open. He knows his time has come. Tensions are building; enemies thirst for his arrest.
    Holy Thursday commemorates the last supper Jesus shared with his 12 disciples prior to his betrayal and arrest. We celebrate Christ’s institution of Holy Communion and reenact his washing of the feet of the disciples, later to become our first priests. After mass, we strip the altar bare, for Jesus is gone.
    On Good Friday, we revisit the crucifixion of Christ with a 14-step devotion called the Stations of the Cross. Church bells are silent. We fast and abstain from eating meat.

Bay Weekly Holy Saturday brings the Easter Vigil …
Father Asigre That night, lilies and spring flowers grace the altar. We kindle an Easter fire and from it light our Paschal candle. With it we dispel darkness in the church and pay tribute to Christ, the Light of the World. Later in the service, each worshipper receives fire from that candle. We initiate new Christians and renew our baptismal vows.

Bay Weekly Then comes Easter ­morning …
Father Asigre Jesus has risen from the dead, fulfilling God’s promise. We rejoice and sing Allelujah!

Bay Weekly If someone who was not Christian wanted to join you …
Father Asigre We would invite them into our fold. It is the hope of our Church that all will come to know and love God through his son, Jesus Christ.