LITURGY MATTERS: The Paschal Mystery - what is it? What does it mean to you?

You may have heard the term ‘Paschal Mystery’ but what is it? What does it mean to you?

As the Church draws closer to the Triduum (check out the 10 Questions about the Triduum), we are reminded of the passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. This is what is known as the Paschal Mystery.  We are particularly invited into that mystery over the Triduum. However, this dying and rising isn’t just something that Jesus went through 2000 years ago or that it is our focus only on the Easter weekend, it is very much a part of our own lives that we experience daily.

So, as you read that last sentence you may ask yourself, what does this dying and rising mean, this Paschal Mystery, in my everyday life context? When we hear the term mystery, we think of something that is hard to comprehend or difficult to explain. This can be true of the Paschal Mystery but let me give it a go and see where we end up.

Looking at our year, there are two seasonal cycles that are occurring, the liturgical year, the sacred season, where the Church participates in the bigger picture of the mystery of Christ, from his birth through to his ascension. We also have our earthly seasons. As we begin to see and feel autumn, we feel the warmth moving over to let in the cold of the coming winter, the leaves turn brown and die. The natural world can almost come to a standstill. But as we know, as the year continues, the warmth will return, and the leaves will grow again. New life returns. So too can our lives mirror the seasons.

Some dying and risings seasons, such as the death of a loved one or the birth of child, are apparent. Sometimes our season might happen in a day, a week, a year or even longer. Read on…

A dying moment may be an argument with a friend or family member, as much as we may feel angry and upset about the situation, the rising moment comes when we go to that person and ask for forgiveness to reconcile the relationship.

There may be an area of your life where you see a need that causes you concern and you are unsure of what could be done. Social justice issues are an example of this. This helplessness can be seen as a dying. Rising from these situations may require being brave and courageous and getting involved. Stepping up to make a change.

You might have a busy day and are rushing around but notice that someone needs your help. This dying moment would require you to stop and give them your time and attention. The rising moment would be making the person feel heard through your gift of listening and friendship. Sometimes we need to make space for others. In helping and having compassion for others in their dying and rising moments in life, we can often then see and appreciate our dying and rising moments more clearly.

So, in a nutshell. Jesus has shown us the way of the Paschal Mystery. How through dying and rising we experience death and new life. It allows us to find hope in our despair, light in our darkness, healing in our pain, joy in our sadness. Like the tree, during autumn and through to winter, it is only the leaves that die. The trunk, branches and roots all stay firm. This is the comfort we have in God. That God will stay firm in our bad times and our good. Christ’s own dying and rising has given us a new way to approach life. Jesus said he came so that we might have life and to live it to the full. So, what needs to die and be risen in your life?    

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Fiona Duque Image
Fiona Duque

Fiona is the Pastoral Ministries Officer - Worship and Prayer.

Formerly, she was the Ministry Coordinator and Religious Studies Coordinator at St Bede's Catholic College, Chisholm.