HARRISON, N.Y. -- Monsignor Francis McAree, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in downtown Harrison, spoke about what Easter means to his parish and the Catholic Church in between Good Friday services held at the church Friday afternoon.
McAree said that Easter services take place over four days beginning on Holy Thursday, when the church begins by commemorating the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas. After an afternoon service on Good Friday, another service was held at night to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus where parishioners said the Stations of the Cross.
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, McAree said. It is about how Jesus died for our sins and gave one of the greatest gifts of all to the church. It is a time for us to embrace the gift of eternal life that Christ has given us.
McAree said that Easter is the most important holiday in the Catholic Church since it involves the central mystery of their faith. He added that Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, has a huge secular element including traditions like gift-giving, which has become associated with that holiday due to the story of St. Nicholas.
A lot of things associated with Easter are completely secular too, like the Easter Bunny or Easter eggs but those traditions are associated with the season of spring rather than religion, McAree said. The Spirit of Easter is because of Christ who gave us eternal salvation by dying for our sins.
But like Christmas, Easter brings out people who only go to mass on those two holidays. McAree said that it is because some people traditionally see the two holidays as the two biggest of the year.
Every Sunday is a little Easter because it celebrates the day of Jesus resurrection, McAree said.
An Easter Vigil mass is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m., the first mass of the Easter season, which begins after sundown to commemorate Christs illumination and the conquering of darkness and death. On Sunday, four Easter masses will be held at the parish at 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
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