It’s taken me awhile (like 30 years!) to begin to under-stand what happens this coming week . . . Holy Week.
I used to think of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday as “Church Week” (a lot of time spent in church.) I was an altar serv-er in grade school and high school, so the week was spent practicing the very solemn and detailed liturgies of those days. Sr. Annella would drill them into us.
The Triduum (Thurs./Fri./Sat – Sunday) was filled with washings, processions, cross carrying, incense, darkness and candles, all with a solemn almost mournful dignity. There was something mysterious and profound that you just couldn’t put into words. Each was its own separate “production”, kind of like watching the Passion Play at Oberamagau.
This all remains, but I think I understand it a bit better now. It’s not a play or a movie, it’s a re-presenting. The liturgy “makes present again,” the saving actions of Jesus in Jerusalem that week. We shouldn’t be surprised about this “make present again” because it happens at every Mass. Jesus, in a non-bloody manner, offers his life on the cross for our salvation. We receive his resurrected body in our own hands, and we eat him as the Bread Broken and Given for eternal life.
This is profound stuff. We’ll never plumb the depths of God’s love for us in Christ. But we can take a step. Come this week.
It really is one event, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Son of God. It takes four days to re-present (Thursday through Sunday). Thursday presents the Wash-ing of Feet (Christ’s commission to humble ourselves in service to our brothers and sisters) and the gift of the Eu-charist and priesthood at the Last Supper.
Good Friday has us walk with Christ the sorrowful jour-ney to his death and a moment to kiss the cross on which he died for love of us.
Holy Saturday is wrapped in silence throughout the day until sunset, when we light the new paschal candle and announce the Resurrection, and each carry our own can-dle, which now shares that same light.
That night our catechumens will be baptized, and all will receive Confirmation and Eucharist. This liturgy begins the celebration of Easter.
Sunday morning is a further joy as we peer into the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene and the apostles.
So, do you have to be “holy” to celebrate Holy Week? Does your Lent have to be full of prayers and sacrifices? Both of these would be nice, but the answer is “No”. It’s a “come as you are” presentation. God loves you as you are.
One week to go. Let’s use it for prayer, fasting and alms-giving. May God bless you this week, wherever you are on your journey.
PS. See the purple refrigerator page in the bulletin for times of liturgies.