Apr 01

Father Tom’s Tidbits

Dear Friends,    

     As we enter into this most sacred time of the year, Holy Week and Easter, we once again remember and relive the events of our salvation. Holy Week is the last week of  Lent, the week immediately preceding Easter Sunday.  It is observed as a time to commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection  of Jesus.  
     The Easter Triduum begins Thursday evening of Holy Week with Eucharist and concludes on Easter. Our observance of Holy Week calls us to move beyond the joyful celebrations of Palm Sunday and Easter, and focus on the suffering, humiliation, and death of Christ that is part of Holy Week. It is important to place our hope of the Resurrection, the promise of newness and life, against the background of suffering and death. It is only in walking through the shadows and darkness of Holy Week and Good Friday that we can truly understand the light and hope of Easter Sunday morning!  
     On Palm Sunday, we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that was marked by the crowds, who were in Jerusalem for Passover, waving palm branches and proclaiming him as the messianic king. Traditionally, we reenact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem by the waving of palm branches and singing songs of celebration. This Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus’ final agonizing journey to the cross.  The English word, “passion,” comes from a Latin word that means “to suffer,” the same word from which we derive the English word patient. The colors of the priest’s vestments are changed to red for Palm Sunday. Red is the color of the Church, used for Pentecost as well as remembering the martyrs of the Church.  
     Holy Thursday is the night that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. This “Last Supper” was actually a traditional Passover Seder which is a ceremonial dinner commemorating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. As He and the disciples shared the meal, he told them that the bread and wine were, in fact, his body and blood. He told the apostles to “Do this in memory of Me.” Holy Thursday also commemorates the institution of the sacraments of Eucharist and Holy Orders, and features a foot-washing rite that commemorates Christ’s washing of the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.  
     Following the Mass on Holy Thursday, there is a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose for adoration by the faithful. The Altar of Repose reminds us of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent his last night in prayer before he was betrayed.  The church is stripped bare. Since the altar symbolizes  Christ, the “stripping of the altar” symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers prior to his crucifixion.  We are invited to spend time watching and praying with our Lord.  
     Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Church’s year.  The Liturgy of the Day re-enacts the suffering and death of Our Lord as we hear the story of Jesus’ Passion from the Gospel. The liturgy includes the reading of the Passion according to John, special prayers for the Church, civil rulers, and people of all ranks, the veneration of the Cross, and a Communion service. The celebration takes place in the afternoon. A Communion service is held in lieu of a Mass. After Communion service everyone leaves in silence.  Good Friday has been celebrated from the earliest centuries as a day of mourning, fasting and prayer.  
     Holy Saturday is the day that Christ’s body lay in the tomb. We recall the Apostle’s Creed which says “He descended unto the dead.” It is a day of transition between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. For this reason no  formal services are held until the Easter Vigil at night. The Easter Vigil  is a time for joy and great expectation because of the beautiful liturgy of the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. It is during this service that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church.  
     This time of year is  an important time to share with the young people of our community. By not bringing your children to church, you are robbing them of a great experience of our faith. At Baptism parents accepted the awesome responsibility of bringing up their children in the practices of the faith. There is no better teaching tool than first hand experiences. Talking about or reading about the events of Holy Week and Easter do not come close in comparison to what we experience as we remember and revisit the events of Holy Week and Easter. So I am asking parents to please bring their children to church for Holy Week and Easter.    
     This week holds a special significance for us. I encourage you to join us for the upcoming liturgical celebrations this week. A  complete schedule of all of our Holy Week and Easter Liturgies can be found on the back page of today’s bulletin. I would also encourage everyone to invite someone, who maybe has never been to our church, or who maybe has been away from the Church for a while, to come with you to our Holy Week and Easter Liturgies. Sometimes it is that personal invitation that makes the difference for a person who has been away from the Church for any length of time.  

     Just a reminder that because of the Easter Vigil next Saturday night, there will be no 4PM Mass next Saturday. Let us now begin our journey through Holy Week  to Easter together.