Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me!
Next Sunday we begin Holy Week, the remembrance of Christ’s passion, with the celebration of Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish the paschal mystery. Throughout the week the passion of the Lord dominates these solemn days. We should be constantly mindful that Jesus humbled himself out of love for us, not shielding his face from buffets and spitting, but rather giving his life on the cross, relying on His Father’s love to take Him through his suffering to the joy of his resurrection. The days of Holy Week have precedence over all other liturgical celebrations and hopefully a spirit of penance and simplicity will dominate our personal lives during these days.
On Tuesday of Holy Week, our local diocesan church celebrates the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Chrism Mass is a sign of unity and communion among all the faithful, the priests and Bishop Matano. During this Mass, the holy oils which will be used throughout the Diocese for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick are blessed. Please be assured you are welcome to attend this celebration of our diocesan church.
Later in the week we enter the Easter Triduum, a time when we center all of our “faith” attention on the fact that Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God. Jesus does this by willingly dying to destroy our death and rising to restore our life. The Easter Triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. The Easter Triduum begins, and Lent ends, with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, flows through Jesus’ passion and death on Good Friday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil on Saturday and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.
What really do the liturgies of the Triduum celebrate? These celebrations are far more than reenactments or historical commemorations of the institution of the Eucharist, the execution on the cross and victory over death. Yes, these faith-anchoring events are historical; however, they cannot be repeated and reenacted. That is why our church’s long tradition insists that what happened once in history passes over into the mystery of the assembly’s celebrations. What our Paschal Triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history. The liturgies of these days do not “take us back” to the upper room or the path to Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is neither to retrace or relive the last hour of Jesus’ life, nor to catch sight of him emerging from the tomb at Easter’s dawn. Our Easter Triduum celebrates not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the Spirit of holiness. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human family, broken like bread for the world’s life, as a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace.
I am mentioning Holy Week a week in advance because it is my sincere hope and prayer that you will seriously consider attending all the Easter Triduum liturgies. The times for all these celebrations are in the Easter mailing that you should have received in the mail recently. They are truly celebrations of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. I hope you can plan your schedule so you can be in prayer with us and the diocesan church during these most holy days of our faith.
Continue the journey to Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me!
In closing, some wisdom from Great Truths That Little Children Have Learned: “No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.”
Let us continue to pray for peace and for the end of terrorism in our world!
In peace and courage,