Column: Easter holds special memories, reminds us of what's important

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Mar. 30—Happy Easter!

This weekend marks the end of the season of Lent and culminates with Easter Sunday.

The religious holiday marks the crucifixion of Jesus and celebrates his resurrection. Millions of people will attend church services this weekend to honor and observe this special occasion.

I have fond childhood memories of Easter and all the trappings. There were usually some new clothes or shoes from my grandparents, not to mention baskets of goodies. At my grandmother's house on South Boundary, the adults would hide Easter eggs and I would go find them. When I was a little older, I helped hide them for my younger sister.

After my wife and I were married, she would invite our goddaughters over to dye Easter eggs. That was a fun tradition that lasted a while until they outgrew it. The girls, not my wife.

Now we will go to Mass on Easter Sunday and gather with both sides of our families for a meal.

The six weeks of Lent have been busy ones. Since converting to Catholicism in 2010, I have followed the "rules" about fasting and abstinence. The big one for me is no meat on Friday, which is tough on someone who doesn't eat seafood and grew up on a meat-and-potatoes diet.

Now I can go back to eating normal on Friday and not having to rely on peanut butter crackers and cheese pizza.

During Lent, one is supposed to give up something or add something to their spiritual life. Since I have a notorious sweet tooth, I didn't give up sugar or candy as I have sometimes done in the past.

But I did try to be a little more patient, particularly in my daily travels, and be more respectful of others. We truly don't know everything that is going on in someone's life. Remember, it costs us nothing to show a little compassion and kindness.

For Holy Week, the services at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church were beautifully done and full of parishioners.

It started last weekend with Palm Sunday and the "Passion of the Lord," the scripture that focused on the last days of Jesus Christ. I'm particularly struck by what Jesus tells his disciple Peter: "Before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will disown me three times."

We were given palm branches, and later my wife fashioned a palm cross for me that I will keep close by.

At the Holy Thursday service, we celebrated the Last Supper. That includes the washing of the feet, which is what Jesus did for his 12 disciples. Twelve chairs were set on the altar, and a dozen men came up. Our priest went to each one and poured water over their feet, and then dried them.

At the end of the service, the procession made its way out of the church, onto Park Avenue and down to Old St. Mary's. It's always a very special and solemn occasion.

I didn't make it to any of the Good Friday services, but I understand the students and youth of St. Mary's did their usual excellent job with the Living Stations of the Cross that re-enacted the events that unfolded in the last days of Christ.

Across the globe, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 female inmates at a prison in Rome on Holy Thursday. Then he gave us words of wisdom to live by as Jesus "teaches us the path of service," according to an Associated Press report.

"Jesus humiliates himself," Francis said. "With this gesture, he makes us understand what he had said: 'I am not here to be served, but to serve.'"

Thanks for reading.