CLINTON, Miss.–If you’re a Christian, no doubt you’ve been recounting in your mind the story of the week leading up to the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. News Mississippi has been exploring Mississippi’s take on Holy Week.
Father Thomas McGing is the priest at Holy Savior catholic Church in Clinton. He is from Ireland, but since age 25 has served in Mississippi in Meridian, Vicksburg, Jackson and now Clinton. He says Easter is the central feast of the Christian faith.
“It’s the central mystery of our Christian faith, St. Paul said that,” he said. “He said if Christ is not raised then our faith is in vain.”
If you are not a Christian, then you should know that Christians believe Christ, as the son of God, died for the sins of humanity that all might seek forgiveness and be granted forgiveness for the sinful nature of man. That death was on a cross at the hands of the Romans and Jews living in the Roman Empire of the day, some 2000 years ago.
“We see it not just as a day, but as a week we celebrate some of the central events at the conclusion of Christ’s life, where he gave us the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, then we remember his death of Good Friday, and, of course, his resurrection, with the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday.”
He said what may be different about the Catholic tradition is that the celebration goes on for another week following that, until the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
McGing said he believes what’s different about Easter in Mississippi is a “Christian atmosphere”, where Christian traditions are an ingrained part of the local culture.
News Mississippi asked Father McGing how he feels about traditions like the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts, which did not originate with Christ or the early Christian church.
“It’s a fine thing to do. These are traditions built up around Easter. Sometimes we do it for the children as kind of the Santa Clause part of Easter. But I think it would be a mistake to stop there and not make the transition with them to the Christ event. We are always to put Christ at the center of our lives and our teaching.”
And, finally, McGing’s take on Christians who come to church only on Easter.
“Some extra people certainly show up on Easter and we should be glad for that. It’s also a time to welcome them back. It means the light is still burning some way in their hearts.”
McGing said he wants everyone to be aware of the time of their local service and not to miss out on the remembrance and celebration of the central event in the lives of Christians and in the history of the Christian church.