There are 52 weeks in a year and seven days in a week. Sunday is the first day of a week and Saturday the last. This year, the week beginning Sunday, April 9th and ending Saturday, April 15th is the only week of the 52 that is called HOLY. That title HOLY is given because of the events in the life of Jesus Christ which are remembered and celebrated during the week. It is called Holy Week because God who is All Holy was involved in those events.
Holy Week is our week—a week special to Christians. Let us observe the days of this week like no other days during the year. Let us arrange our schedules to gather in our churches for the liturgies which make present the saving action of the Lord Jesus Christ and for other services, such as Processions, Stations of the Cross, the Sacrament of Penance, dramatic re-enactments of the Passion and Death of the Lord. Take advantage of what your parish offers for Holy Week 2017 and allow your participation to help you to become more holy.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion recalling the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Jesus who is greeted by cheering crowds waving palm branches. Those same crowds become those who call for His crucifixion. As Holy Week begins, it places the Cross of Christ, the sign of our salvation, before us. Blessed Palm is personally received as a remembrance. The Palms and the Passion are remembered together.
On Tuesday, April 11th, the Mass of the Chrism is concelebrated by the priests of the diocese with me, their bishop, during which we publicly renew our priestly commitment to Jesus Christ, to His church and to God’s people. The Holy Oils of the Sick and the Catechumens are blessed and the Sacred Chrism used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders for the Ordination of Priests and Bishops is consecrated. Until Holy Week 2018 these very Holy Oils will be used by the parishes of our diocese for the celebration of the Sacraments. In the following 12 months you or a family member may be anointed with one of these Holy Oils. The solemn ritual of their preparation takes place at this Mass to which you are most welcomed to participate.
On Holy Thursday, April 13th, the Sacred Triduum begins. Three days of prayer are offered as if one continuous prayer. This is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. The saving Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord who passes over from death to life and who leaves among us the Holy Eucharist, His Body and Blood, the Memorial of His Death and Resurrection. At the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper the events of that Passover Supper when Jesus gave us the Sacrament of His Body and Blood are recalled. The most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, His Real Presence makes present His Death and Resurrection; feet are washed to remind us to humbly serve one another as humbly as He did. “I have given you an example.”
On Good Friday, April 14th, the Lord’s Passion and Death on a cross are remembered. “We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” As the world spins the Cross stands still, said Saint Bruno. The Cross, our sign of God’s love, of God’s entering into the messiness and the spinning of our human lives. May the Cross of the Lord steady our lives.
On Holy Saturday, April 15th, the Church waits empty as the Lord Himself waited in the tomb in which He was buried and out of which He rose to life. Out of our tombs we too can rise with Christ. In the darkness of the Vigil on this Holy Night His bursting out of death and His return to life are celebrated as is our sharing in this Mystery through Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. His victory can be ours.
Christ is the Mystery who is made present in Holy Week. May HOLY WEEK 2017 help us to grow in holiness and to know Him, love Him and follow Him.