Celebrating Holy Week
Our Easter celebration 2019 was a success! All of the Liberia Mission family —students from university, B.W.I., St. Kizito, and St. Anthony of Padua — were represented on campus for Holy Week this year. Our activities prepared us for that moment when we could proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed, alleluia!” Enjoy this post sharing about each day in the Easter Triduum (the days from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday).
On Holy Thursday, we had a traditional Passover meal, complete with lamb, bitter herbs, and candles. The Passover meal is a long-standing tradition at Liberia Mission because it teaches us that the Mass was not an invention of the apostles or a meal Jesus created. It was a transformation of a Jewish liturgy — the Seder.
Everyone in our community enjoyed taking part of this meal and it was a beautiful start to our Easter Triduum. That evening, Fr. Yao came to celebrate Mass with us and performed the washing of the feet on members of our faith community. At the end of the Mass, Fr. Yao took the Eucharist to the altar of repose the students had made earlier in the week. We stayed with Jesus until midnight, singing praise and worship songs and having moments of silent prayer.
On Good Friday we traveled down the road to join our brothers and sister from St. Francis Xavier outstation. Our students put on a Passion drama that showed all that Jesus did for us in His final hours on Earth. As Pilate handed Him over to be crucified, we began praying the Stations of the Cross in a procession, heading towards St. Francis Xavier. It was very powerful as we walked along the Kakata Highway (one of Liberia’s busiest roads). Everybody who was working, selling, or driving motorbike taxis stopped to take in our procession. It was as if the whole world stopped to witness Jesus’ story as we passed by.
When we reached St. Francis, we began our Good Friday service. Fr. Deepak talked about the importance of silence on Good Friday. Indeed, we had been observing silence at Liberia Mission on that day, not ringing bells for activities nor speaking loudly. After Fr. Deepak’s homily, we had the Veneration of the Holy Cross and communion. We then left St. Francis Xavier and headed back to Liberia Mission, pondering the price Jesus paid for all our sins.
On Holy Saturday, we continued with a silent atmosphere as we prepared for the Easter Vigil Mass. We also prepared for Easter Sunday. We painted eggs for our Easter egg hunt, prepared food ahead of time for our Easter feast, decorated our chapel and prepared a bonfire for the Vigil Mass!
Vigil Mass began around 9 p.m. as we all gathered around the bonfire outside the chapel. We celebrated Jesus as the light of the world and entered the chapel, each with a candle in his/her hand. The Vigil Mass is long but beautiful. It is also the time when people who want to become Catholic receive the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. One of our very own students, James, received both, along with six other members of our faith community! After Mass our students remained in the chapel until midnight, singing, dancing, and proclaiming the risen Christ.
Easter Sunday began in the morning with the Holy Mass. Our chapel was packed with faithful dressed in their very best! After the Mass, all the children rushed out of the chapel to begin the Easter egg hunt. Everyone was searching for the golden egg, which comes with a reward. Many eggs were hidden, but only one would be golden! It was one of our B.W.I. students, Titus, who found the golden egg in the end. Our director, John Alpha, rewarded him with 5 U.S. dollars, a worthy reward, indeed!
As the Easter egg hunt was coming to an end, many preparations were still being made for our Easter feast. “We na’ make it lazy, O!”—which is the Liberian way of saying, “We didn’t cut any corners!” And we didn’t! We roasted a whole pig on our homemade, outdoor oven. There was also fried chicken, potato salad, rice and gravy, and soft drinks. Needless to say, a long nap followed our meal! It was a very beautiful day, filled with faith, friendship, and fun.
Our Easter Triduum this year was a very special one. We upheld many long-standing traditions unique to Liberia Mission that allowed us to enter into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. We look forward to next year, when we can do it all again! Alleluia!