The liturgy of Holy Week is upon us, beginning this Palm Sunday – while the world around us is filled with suffering, from the pandemic and poverty to global warming and warfare. Let’s reflect on these two simultaneous realities, that we might find some wisdom and hope.
In the sweep of this week (see the schedule in this eNews) – from Palm Sunday of the Passion, through Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper and Good Friday of His Suffering and Death, to the Easter Vigil and Sunday of His Resurrection – the liturgies set before us in drama and symbol the rejection and suffering of the Christ. They invite us to contemplate our human sufferings in the sufferings of Jesus, to see in him all the sorrows of our human race. It is not difficult for us to do so right now. With scenes of pandemic illness and death still fresh in our minds, with the recent cries of “Black Lives Matter” ringing in our ears, our collective human awareness is now forced to focus on the horror of war in Ukraine. The body bags and bombed out buildings we’ve faced in recent days have only deepened our sense of human misery. Lord, have mercy! And I haven’t even mentioned the personal sufferings we can face: illness and addiction, loved ones lost, economic hardship, racism, rejection, ruptured relationships.
Through all this the liturgies also invite us to notice the subtle mystery of God’s presence and action, God’s justice and gentle compassion, unfolding unrelentingly and leading to the testimony of New Life and Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit of Jesus sent forth into all peoples. Do you notice it? As if by an inborn instinct something in us rises up in protest that all this misery can’t be what the Creator intends. Something in us is drawn toward the possibility of hope and faith, that compassion assuages suffering, that goodness is stronger than evil, that Life conquers Death, that Love wins all.
If you are feeling the pain of all the suffering around us, maybe even overwhelmed by it; if you need some hope and renewal – come to the liturgies this Holy Week. Let their deep drama and symbolic language wash over you… the sharing of an intimate Supper, water washing dusty soles, crosses carried, light in the darkness, tombs emptied. Let the spirit of Jesus touch you. You may weep for a little while, but you will come away with your heart renewed, hurt released, hope restored. The Dawn of joy and peace approaches.
I want to invite you especially to the Easter Vigil liturgy (Saturday evening, 8:30 PM) to be with our three candidates for Confirmation and Full Reception into the Catholic Church. This ancient vigil liturgy was restored to the Church only some decades ago, and it hasn’t yet caught on as a common practice like Palm Sunday or Good Friday. Yet it is grander and older than those liturgies, and portrays in one spectacle all the mysteries of our faith. (And if you need some enticement, just as the Christmas Eve mass is to Christmas, so is this Easter Vigil to Easter – it is your Easter mass; no need to come to mass on Sunday morning!) It is also a liturgy of Initiation sacraments – the Candidates and their searching thirst for Christ are also a symbolic drama that connects us to our own journey to spiritual maturity. Come support and pray with our three Candidates as they complete their initiation into our community and life in Christ. Come and experience the grace of the night just before the Dawn.