BujumburaBy Fr. Félix Barutwanayo, SJ
Lycée du Saint Esprit, Burundi

As we journeyed towards the close of the Lenten season of 2017, the general ambiance was deeply moving, sober and prayerful. The celebrations of Easter Triduum began on Thursday with the mass for the washing of the feet and the institution of the Eucharist. Twelve children, boys and girls, most of whom are mass servers, were washed their feet in remembrance of Jesus’ gesture of deep love and humility towards his disciples and towards us today. All the members of the Jesuit community in Bujumbura joined the Christians and friends of Jesuits to celebrate Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood.

The main celebrant, Fr. Bernard Karerwa affirmed that Jesus’ gesture of washing the feet of his disciples was a humbling and loving act through which he solicited his followers to love him back. His love for humanity is so great that nothing can stand on its way. He loved us to the end; he loved us until he breathed his last, as we meditated it on Good Friday.

The Easter vigil immersed us into the mystery of the salvation that Jesus earned for us. The three Jesuit Priests at Lycee du Saint Esprit were joined by many other Priests from the bishop’s residence who came to concelebrate and to share the joy of Easter. The main celebrant, Fr Felix Barutwanayo, illustrated that the long history of God electing and cherishing the people of Israel is a prototype of our own story and our election by God. If the Lord had not deigned to save us, our birth would have been useless, said the Easter proclamation. We are who we are thanks to Jesus who accepted God’s will and carried his cross up to the end.
The celebration of Easter Sunday saw the participation of thousands of Christians from Bujumbura converging to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart to celebrate the Risen Lord. The liturgy was carefully planned, colorful and somehow inculturated with two symbols. First, there was the procession of the Holy Bible, God’s word, on a majestic chair symbolizing that Christ, the eternal word made flesh, reigns in glory. The chair was carried by a sister, a couple and a young lady in order to show that the whole Church in her diversity of ministries acknowledges his victory and receives him as her Lord and King. As it entered the Church, it was received by many acclamations and standing ovations by the Christians before being laid in front of the altar where the eternal king is present during the Eucharistic celebration. The second symbol was the procession of gifts presented using traditional pots and baskets which showed that we offer ourselves to the Lord as we are.

Such celebrations required preparations and participation of various liturgical groups. Our choirs deserve a special mention because they made our liturgies beautiful, lively and deeply prayerful. As the main celebrants in both masses insisted on the fact that our new name is “Christians” and that we ought to be Christlike in all our endeavors; we continue to pray that this Easter experience renew our hopes and commitment to the Christ who saves us by the shedding of his blood and by his victory over death.


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