Holy pilgrimage in one’s backyard

Published 5:08 pm Saturday, April 15, 2017

The faithful went on their own kind of pilgrimage Friday afternoon at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Port Neches.

Father Shane Baxter oversaw the Stations of the Cross during Easter weekend.

“It started in the Middle Ages. People would go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” Baxter said.

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He explained that pilgrims would walk the path that Jesus walked, in order to better know His sacrifice.

“But not everyone could go to Jerusalem,” Baxter said. “So, they started the Stations of the Cross so (pilgrims) didn’t have to go to Jerusalem.”

Baxter discussed the Easter Triduum, and how it encompasses the three-day period including Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The observance remembers the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“(Good) Friday is the only day of the year where the Church has no Mass,” Baxter said. “Because of Thursday’s Last Supper.”

Mass, or the Sacrament of Holy Communion, is resumed once more starting at the Easter Vigil.

For the Stations performed at St. Elizabeth, Baxter said they were modeled after the Virgin Mary’s perspective.

“It’s become a tradition to do hers,” Baxter said. “To do it from the standpoint of the Blessed Mother.”

Baxter said Easter is his favorite time of year because, “it is the heart of our faith. It’s the celebration of the Lord.”

Baxter described the Easter weekend as “happy and contagious.”

“It’s our most holy time because God let us know that He is with us,” Baxter said, referring to when God became man. “It can be hard to understand sometimes when there is bad in the world. (But) He is there with us.

“If you go through the whole Triduum, you learn that Jesus is God become man. And that God, omnipotent and all knowing as He is, willingly sacrificed Himself to be with us.

“It’s an incredible act of love.”

For Peggy and Glenn Lagrange, that act did not seem lost on them.

“It’s the heart of our faith,” Peggy said, echoing Father Baxter’s words.

Glenn said he has been attending St. Elizabeth for 45 years.

“We love this church; everyone is so friendly,” he said.

“It’s a very friendly community if you need help,” Peggy said.

Glenn related a story about his time fighting cancer and how the parishioners at St. Elizabeth offered him so many of their prayers.

For Peggy, she was raised Southern Baptist but converted and accepted the Sacraments when she got together with Glenn.

Knowing everyone in the church community was another big positive, according to her.

Another St. Elizabeth parishioner, Shirley Griffith, has been going to church for as long as she has been alive — 82 years.

“It’s very friendly,” Griffith said of the St. Elizabeth community. “Everyone seems so welcoming here.”

In addition, Griffith remarked that the time around Easter was “so holy” and that this would be the time where followers would feel most compelled to attend church.

“It’s the time when you can’t miss church,” she said