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Join us Friday, May 31 – Saturday, June 1! Events are open to all alumni and celebrating milestone anniversaries for classes ending in 4 & 9.

Saint Ignatius High School

The Light of Christ

Journey alongside Jim Brennan ’85 in "The Light of Christ" as he recounts Saint Ignatius High School's profound experience of the Easter Triduum. Through the interactive prayer service lead by Amanda Martin, our school community was immersed in the beauty of Holy Week and the transformative power of Christ's light.
The Light of Christ

Twenty years ago or so, Bishop Anthony Pilla asked the schools of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to cancel classes on Holy Thursdays. His concern was that well-meaning administrators and campus ministers were holding Holy Week Masses, particularly the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and that students were leaving school thinking that they had more than fulfilled their already-optional Easter Triduum devotions. Given that our parishes are our spiritual homes, the bishop wanted families to join with their local congregations.

Saint Ignatius complied and for the last two decades, students would prepare for Easter with the sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent and Stations of the Cross in their Theology classes during Holy Week. However, we refrained from all-school liturgies.

That is, until last Wednesday.

On that day, traditionally called “Spy Wednesday” to recall Judas’s betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Amanda Martin of our Theology department and Harlequins director, along with the Campus Ministry team and choral director, David Croglio, gathered students and faculty to lead the school in an Easter Triduum prayer service.  

We remember that the Triduum (literally the “three days”) is the holiest season on the Christian calendar.  Stretching from Holy Thursday (liturgically the day begins around sundown the night before) through Easter Sunday, this season leads Christians through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  

It was the day before the Easter recess. Our boys had not been together as a whole school since the basketball team won the state championship. Amanda created this prayer service from whole cloth. The service was prayed in the dark (or at least the “dim”). This was something new, done for a demographic that does not always do “new” well. It was a recipe for disaster…

…It was one of the most beautiful prayer experiences I’ve ever had.

With a profound liturgical sense, as well as a gift for theatrical staging, Amanda walked the school through the “three days.” Focusing on the biblical themes of covenant, suffering, and new life, the service touched on, and gave a taste of, Jesus’ love expressed on Holy Thursday, His sacrificial suffering offered on Good Friday, and the anticipation of new life as Holy Saturday blossoms into Easter Sunday. As the service unfolded, I could hear a pin drop in the Fr. Sullivan gym…and I was sitting with sophomores!

Our students face an uphill climb when it comes to developing their faith in Jesus and the Church. Gone are most of the cultural supports that religious people–especially Christians–enjoyed even a generation ago. Even time-proven spiritual practices, without intentional catechesis, are proving inadequate–as demonstrated by the increasing numbers of young people who identify “none” when asked in surveys about their religious affiliations.

Bishop Robert Barron, himself at the forefront of the “New Evangelization,'' has repeatedly stressed appealing to the transcendentals of goodness, truth, and beauty as we share the Faith; with an emphasis on highlighting beauty. Amanda touched on all three, but the experience was especially beautiful. It featured magnificent music, both instrumental and vocal, a multimedia presentation that fit the solemnity of the moment, heart-felt personal witnesses, and a healthy dose of Scripture; read from the page, but proclaimed from the heart.

Anticipating the Triduum rituals, the service featured an abbreviated Holy Thursday Mandatum in which Dr. Anthony Fior, Fr. Ray Guiao S.J., and Dr. Mary Ann Vogel washed the feet of students, faculty, staff, and administration from Saint Ignatius and Welsh Academy. It moved to the Good Friday veneration of the cross in which the life-sized crucifix hung above the altar at Mass was lowered, venerated, and carried out of the space--mirroring Jesus being taken down from the cross and led to His burial. With lights dimmed, Fr. Matt Donovan S.J. brought in a lighted Paschal Candle, from which were kindled tapers illuminating the dark room. During this movement, we prayed the call and response of “Christ our Light,” “Thanks be to God,” which opened the Easter Vigil.  

On this day in early Holy Week, the Saint Ignatius community was given a taste of the Triduum liturgies we would later pray at our home parishes. Exhorted to do just that–to pray at “home”–we were well prepared by a master teacher, who not only found a way to explain why the Church prays as we do this time of year, but also gave a visual demonstration of how to do it.
 
In an innovative and faith-filled way, Amanda Martin and her crew shared the light of Christ with us last Wednesday.

Thanks be to God.

A.M.D.G. / B.V.M.H.