Sacraments are crucial to understanding Easter: Archbishop Fisher celebrates the Easter Triduum

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
3 Apr 2018

The culmination of Holy Week - the Sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil - marks the holiest time in the Christian calendar.

Last week, while one billion Catholics around the world celebrated the occasion, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Sydney participated in liturgies on each day of the Triduum, walking with Christ through His Passion, death and resurrection.

On Thursday, the liturgies at St Mary's Cathedral began with the Chrism Mass, the annual Mass at which the oils used in Baptism, Ordination and Anointing of the Sick are blessed, and priests of the Archdiocese solemnly renew the promises made on the day of their Ordination.

Reminding the priests of the Archdiocese of the importance of their words, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said:

"The Lord has given you disciples' tongues, that you might speak to the weary ... speak glad tidings to the down-hearted, healing words to the broken-hearted, liberating words to the heavy-hearted''.
He also thanked them for their work in serving the people of Sydney.

That evening, Archbishop Fisher celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and - imitating Christ at the Last Supper - washed the feet of twelve people.

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher began reflecting on the connection between the Sacraments and Holy Week; a theme he would continue throughout the remainder of the Easter liturgies. The first two Sacraments he reflected upon were Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, and their link to Holy Thursday night.

"At His Last Supper and first Mass, Jesus uttered the words that would make the bread His Body and the wine His Blood. Though His death would be the all-sufficing sacrifice for all humanity, He commanded His men to "Do this in memory of Me." Thus every generation might participate, not just notionally and from a distance, but personally, Body-to-body. All other events pass into history; only Christ's Passion, death and resurrection, though truly historical, abide even now through the Sacrament that draws people to Him.

"Before this Mystery we fall on our knees in adoration, surrender and thanksgiving. And in directing His apostles to do this in memory of Him, He constituted them priests of the New Testament. So the Church exists for worship and service. Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders are two sides of the one coin. Neither could exist without the other: as the Church makes the Eucharist, so the Eucharist makes the Church. As priests confect the Blessed Sacrament, so that Sacrament defines and configures them as Priest. You cannot love that Sacrament without loving the Priesthood Christ instituted to provide it, however unworthy we are. To love Christ is to love His Eucharist and His Eucharisters."

On Good Friday, worshippers returned to St Mary's Cathedral for the Stations of the Cross and the Commemoration of the Lord's Passion.

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher reflected on the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and Confirmation:

"From the Cross, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Matrimony. John describes Jesus' death carefully: "bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." That was the moment of Christ's destruction; when His human soul was separated from the body; but it was also when the Holy Spirit was released.

"Just before this moment, Jesus said: "It is consummated." So there's a marital aspect to all this; marital love is presented as good enough to be a metaphor for God's closeness to Israel. Jesus came to make the Church His bride. He is completely faithful, even when she is unfaithful. He gave His Body to her in the Eucharist. He gave her the spark of life, so that many new children would be born of her in Baptism. He gave her His all, so He could say at the last that the marriage was consummated."

Thousands returned to the Cathedral for the Easter Vigil and more still on Easter Sunday to hear with joy the good news of Christ's resurrection.

Concluding his series on the Sacraments, Archbishop Fisher spoke about the Easter link to Baptism, Confession and Anointing of the Sick:

"On Easter night, we bring our catechumens to the font, and baptise them with Easter water. To be baptised is to die and be buried with Christ, and be raised up with Christ to new life. Baptism is the sacrament of rebirth. Baptism wipes away all sin. Yet it cannot be repeated as sin, sadly, can. Hence the 'second baptism' of Reconciliation. So Confession is another beautiful Easter gift, stirring us to contrition and resolve to sin no more, enabling a life-long journey of conversion, reconciling us to God and the Church, and giving us 'pardon and peace'.

"And if the Easter sacrament of Baptism regenerates the spirit and the Easter sacrament of Penance renews the heart, then it is the Easter sacrament of Anointing that restores the body."

You can view the videos of each of the Easter liturgies at the St Mary's Cathedral YouTube page:

Following the Easter Sunday Mass, Archbishop Fisher handed out Easter eggs to those who attended the Mass.