Christians in State College and around the world will celebrate Easter today, the holiest day on the Christian calendar.
Easter is the foundation of Christianity, marking Jesus Christ's crucifixion and his rise from the dead.
Easter is also the culmination of the Lenten Season, between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday - the day before Easter. Lent is a period of penance to honor the 40 days Christ spent in the desert, which Catholics and some other Christians celebrate.
The Rev. Neil Dadey with Our Lady of Victory, a Roman Catholic church, notes the resurrection of Christ is the core belief of Christianity.
"On Easter Sunday Christians proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and that is the foundation of our beliefs and our love for our good Lord -- by his death and resurrection sin has been destroyed," Dadey says. "Without the Resurrection we would not have the hope and faith we need to get through this life."
The church will celebrate Mass at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. on Sunday at 820 Westerly Parkway.
Dan Digman is pastor at Cedar Heights, a new non-denominational church that holds Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. in the auditorium of the State College Area High School, 653 Westerly Parkway.
"Easter is significant to a Christian because it is the celebration of Jesus being raised from the dead three days after dying on the cross," Digman says. "When Jesus went to the cross and died he paid for the punishment of sins for all Christians, but the fact that he was raised from the dead three days later shows that he overcame our sin, defeated death and is still very much alive."
Traditionally, Christian churches see the highest attendance rates over Easter likely because it celebrates the foundational principle of the faith.
"There are many cultural reasons and traditions that compel people to go to church on Easter even if they don't attend the rest of the year. We are just glad people are coming in the doors and getting to hear about who Jesus is, what he did for us and what a life following him looks like," Digman says.
Digman says guests are welcome at Cedar Heights on Easter or any other Sunday.
"We do hope that as a result of having guests at our service people will feel welcomed regardless of what their faith or life might look like and be impacted to want to come back and hear more about who Jesus is and what it could mean for their lives," says Digman.
Dadey says thousands of Catholic Christians are expected to go through the doors of Our Lady of Victory over Easter weekend, starting with an Easter vigil Saturday evening.
Dadey also noted that visitors are welcome to any of Our Lady of Victory services.
"We do welcome any and all to come with our parish family to celebrate the event that we've been waiting for." Dadey says. "Our doors are open and we do welcome those who wish to worship with us."
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