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Dear Followers of the Crucified,
This week plunges us into the depths of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. His passion, his death and his resurrection become the core of our faith. This process of dying and rising is the pattern of the Christian. This letting go, this dying to self, and being raised up in Christ, becomes our life as the baptized. This week is the most important week in our liturgical year. In this week we find the face of our Savior, and the reality and the truth of our own lives.
I invite you into this week of prayer even though we will not be together! The virus has shut the doors of our churches, but not our hearts. We are committed to these liturgies even when we have to watch them on the internet or television. So, I want to remind you of the importance of these liturgies. I also invite you to make sure you are following Holy Week the best you can through the resources of our diocese and beyond.
I realize we are all distracted by life. Sometimes we feel lost in the unbelievable difficulties in life, including our survival from this pandemic. This week demands our attention. This is the week where the lost find Him. This is the week where the weak find strength. This is the week where we rest our shame, our sin, and our guilt at His feet. This is the week of love.
The Paschal Triduum begins on Holy Thursday. The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper takes us back to the night before Jesus died. He gathered his loved ones around a meal. He lifted up bread. Jesus told his disciples to always break bread in his memory. He promised to be with us forever. He held the cup in his hands. Jesus promised that his bloodshed would redeem the world. He also took the feet of his disciples into his hands. He told them that love is also real when we learn to serve. When we get out of the way, when we let go of our prejudice, our misogyny, our homophobia, our xenophobia, we then learn the core of hospitality among the stranger. “The other” no longer becomes a source of fear, but a living reality that all people belong in Christ Jesus. The Last Supper becomes food of our redemption and the source of love to embrace people. This link of prayer and service becomes the mission of the Church.
Good Friday, also called Friday of the Passion of the Lord, digs deep into our human longing for Christ. Christ’s death teaches us to move beyond fear. The redemption of the wood of the cross reveals that all suffering shall find a home in Christ Jesus. His blood on the cross cleanses all our sins, our divisions, our hatred and false power. We all ache to let go of our shame, our guilt, our ill will and pretentious speech at the altar of the cross. We are called to surrender to Christ. We allow him into our despair. Our longing is more than our selfishness. On Good Friday, remember the last time that you came to reverence or kiss the cross. Were you searching to belong? At the cross we discover our own faith in Jesus who takes us by the heart so that we will ultimately surrender to such love. We also realize that death does not have the last word.
On Holy Saturday, we celebrate the Easter Vigil. Here the Church ignites new fire so that we may not be lost in the dark. The Light of Christ reveals our path in the darkness. We listen to the scriptures of our salvation history. This story reveals to us that we are a continuation of such beauty and love. We crack open the gospel of Christ’s Resurrection. This is the place of freedom. Christ is living and real. This is normally the time that we welcome our Elect to the font of Christ Jesus. However, this year it has been postponed.
We explore the wonders that we belong together in Christ, that love is the real identity of us who believe. Someday soon, we will celebrate the Eucharist and be together again. Someday soon, we will initiate our Elect and celebrate Sacraments of Initiation for our children, young adults and those waiting for baptism. In the meantime, praise God for this week, for this is the week we call holy.
Blessings to you in this Holy Week,