Feast of the Ascension

The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, also known as Ascension Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Ascension Day, commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is one of the ecumenical feasts (i.e. universally celebrated) of Christian churches, ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter (following the accounts given in Mark 16:9, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:2), although some Christian denominations have moved the observance to the following Sunday.

Easter

Easter, also called Pasch or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c 33 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty day period of fasting, prayer and penance.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday)

English: Description: Left Apsis: Jesus enteri...

English: Description: Left Apsis: Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Fresco in the Parish Church of Zirl, Austria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holy week begins with the sixth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday observes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that was marked by the crowds who were in Jerusalem for Passover waving palm branches and proclaiming him as the messianic king. The Gospels tell us that Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, enacting the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 and in so doing emphasized the humility that was to characterize the Kingdom he proclaimed. The irony of his acceptance as the new Davidic King (Mark 11:10) by the crowds who would only five days later cry for his execution should be a sobering reminder of the human tendency to want God on our own terms.

Traditionally, worshippers enact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem by the waving of palm branches and singing songs of celebration. Sometimes this is accompanied by a processional into the church.

This Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus’ final agonising journey to the Cross. The English word passion comes from a Latin word that means ‘to suffer,’ the same word from which we derive the English word patient.

In most Protestant traditions, the liturgical colour for The Season of Lent is purple, and that colour is used until Easter Sunday. In Catholic tradition (and some others), the colours

Ash Wednesday

English: Ash Wednesday, watercolor, 78 x 113 c...

English: Ash Wednesday, watercolor, 78 x 113 cm (detail) Polski: Popielec, akwarela, karton, 78 x 113 cm (frag.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday. Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter.

The Baptism of Our Lord

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord’s second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. In the Eastern Church this feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons. Many of the incidents which accompanied Christ’s baptism are symbolical of what happened at our Baptism. At Christ’s baptism the the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; at our Baptism the Trinity took its abode in our soul. At His baptism Christ was proclaimed the “Beloved Son” of the Father; at our Baptism we become the adopted sons of God. At Christ’s baptism the heavens were opened; at our Baptism heaven was opened to us. At His baptism Jesus prayed; after our Baptism we must pray to avoid actual sin.