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Faith Festivals… Easter

What Easter means to me...

by Phil Butcher, Trustee of Redbridge Faith forum

As a Christian, Easter is the most important Feast in our calendar. Within Roman Catholicism, in common with many other Christian traditions, the Easter season starts with Lent, forty day period of prayer, almsgiving and abstinence.

At the start we receive ‘ashes’ on our heads which are a sign for us to repent and turn to the Gospel. The culmination of Lent begins with Palm Sunday which is the start of Holy Week. On this day, the last Sunday before Easter, we recall Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem and many Christians will carry branches from Palm trees, sometimes fashioned into a cross.

Holy week consist of several special celebrations in each church. Tuesday is a Day of Reconciliation where we seek God’s forgiveness for our sins. Wednesday usually sees a special Mass of Chrism in the Cathedral, where each priest reaffirms their priesthood and special oils are blessed to be taken to every parish in the Diocese.

Maundy Thursday is the start of what is really one continuous service, the Triduum which spreads over three days. We celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper, remembering how Jesus gathered His friends to celebrate Passover, Good Friday, where recall the Passion and death of Jesus and then Easter where, as Christians, we believe He conquered death and rose again. On Easter Saturday after sunset, at the Vigil Mass, a fire is usually lit outside each church which is blessed and then used to light the Paschal Candle from which everyone lights their own candle so spreading the ‘Light of Christ’.

Easter is the most important and central feast for Christians all over the world and whichever tradition you follow, we wish you a very Happy and Peace filled Easter

Phil has been a Christian representative on our Board of Trustees since 2011.

Phil serves as Steward of the Gospel and is on the parish council at St Cedds Roman Catholic Church, Goodmayes.   Phil holds an MA in Pastoral Theology (Dominican University Chicago). Phil worked for the Diocese of Brentwood for 8 years as Director of the Commissions for Social Justice and coordinator for Marriage and Family Life.

Phil is married to Kathy and has been blessed with a son and daughter and five grand-daughters. Phil has lived in Redbridge for almost 40 years and is a regular at the Valentines Park Run each Saturday morning.