……from your Pastor’s Desk
Hello my People of God,
Today is Palm Sunday and I am blessing palms and I will keep them here for you until you can finally receive them.
Holy Week this year is going to be very different from any we have known up to now, and we will all feel it. As we mark the great events that give us new life in Christ, we will do so full of the concern, anxiety, fear and sadness caused by the viral pandemic. At the same time, we notice around us much evidence of compassion and solidarity and self-sacrifice. May this time of testing somehow prove to be a time of grace for us all.
For Christians, remembering the last week of Jesus’ life is an act of hope as well as of compassion. We re-tell the whole story because our Jesus is risen from the dead. And this remembering has a practical effect. For as we do this in memory of Him, the same compassion, forgiveness, love and healing practiced by Jesus are offered again to all who believe, precisely because he is risen from the dead. Our Christian memory is not a dead remembering but an effective union with the great events that gave us new life in Christ.
As you know, I have been saying Mass every day for you and will continue to do so until we all can gather together again. Although we cannot open the church to the faithful, I will be having a modified version of all the Holy Week services. We are still trying to work it out, to have some type of ‘live-stream’ of them, but I cannot guarantee that as of this writing. I know many of you have other TV masses that you are viewing in the mean-time.
This week we begin a time so sacred to us Catholics that it is called ‘Holy Week.’ So, let us, in absentia, enter each Holy Day:
It is true that as far as individual celebrations go, Christmas seems to overshadow Easter, but Holy Week is more than just Easter Sunday. Our Liturgy makes a diametrical shift from the celebration of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the agony of His Passion and death as told in the Gospel of Mark.
This day, Palm Sunday, is an ‘Overture,’ if you will, of the days to come.
Holy Thursday: It is a great joy to celebrate the REAL event where Our Lord Jesus truly gave us bread as His Body and wine as His Blood. Where He establishes that we are to re-enter this moment in time every time we do the same, and where He empowers the apostles to do the same in His name. It is at this Mass that we have the true meaning of priesthood established – that of being a servant to the people of God, not one who is to be served.
Next we have Good Friday: The only day in the entire year where no Mass is said anywhere in the world. This is the day Our Lord died. We relive His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death and burial. It is a solemn celebration with deeply moving ritual of the ‘Veneration of the Cross’ as the ultimate sign of respect and thanksgiving for His suffering for us.
Holy Saturday is the last of the ‘Three Days.’ This is traditionally a day of quiet meditation as we contemplate the darkness of the world without a future and without hope apart from God and God’s Grace. How timely. It is also a time to remember family and friends who have died and await the Resurrection. This day ends with the ‘Celebration of all Celebrations’: the Easter Vigil.
We usually begin outside with the Fire and Water Ceremony, in which our new Christ Candle is blessed. We then have a candle-light procession into the darkened church and hear the singing of the Exsultet. This is followed by a scriptural journey through salvation history. Of course, this year all of this been simplified or abrogated following ecclesiastical leadership guidelines.
This week ends with Easter Sunday Mass. A celebration of the center of our faith – Christ’s Resurrection from the dead.
I cannot express the feeling of not being able to celebrate these Holy Days with you. As I said, this year is going to be very different from any we have known up to now, and we will all feel it. Some of you are alone in your houses – but know that God is with you, and you are with God. And we can all unite in prayer, especially this week above all weeks.
So, please take time each of the Holy Days, read the offering in the ‘Little Black Book’ for the day, and if you are blessed to be with family, share our blessed ‘stories’ of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. This will bring you what the world needs now – Hope.
I love you and miss you all,