In our faith journey as Catholic Christians, we have arrived at the holiest week of our Church Year. We begin with the opening Hosannas for Palm/Passion Sunday: having traded last years’ old palms for Lenten ashes, knowing new palms will be received as we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. We then turn toward the shadow of the cross and Calvary; the Triduum (Holy Thursday—the Last Supper, The Way of the Cross, Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion, the Easter Vigil and then Easter Sunday)—containing all the most important sacred symbols and signs that express our faith and belief in our rituals.
I look forward to the breaking of the bread at “The Table of Plenty” on Holy Thursday, the reception of the Holy Oils and the foot washing lesson of service for all. The Liturgy of Good Friday—the only day of the year that Mass is not celebrated—in which we hear the Word, venerate the cross and receive Communion! I love the fire and light of Christ being brought into the Church at the Easter Vigil; and the return of the Alleluia and Gloria after fasting from them during Lent. Then, on Easter Sunday we celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord—“as members of the risen Christ, we have access to a new life, the very life of God” (The Living Liturgy).
I am consoled by this week of holy liturgies. As far as a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land goes, although I may not be able to afford the time, or arrange the cessation of familial responsibilities, eke out the money, brave the danger, survive the impossibilities sometimes of travel—I will travel the Way of Jesus in this week ahead—and you can too! By participating in all of the liturgies we have the opportunity to ‘relive’ the events that took place two thousand years ago: the time and place, the personal witness, the betrayals, the sacrifice and suffering, the joy in the Resurrection and the renewal of our own baptismal vows. I know it is mystery, not history, but in participating I feel I am there.
When we travel, we travel prepared: we pack our suitcases carefully with the items needed for our journey, we leave our homes ready for our return, and we attend to the details that make our journeys meaningful. My suggestion is to take the same care in preparation for this journey of faith: to read the scripture; to be rested in order to truly focus and hear/pray the Word; to prepare your spirit through the Sacrament of Reconciliation; to plan “attendance first” to the liturgies─and let other stuff come second. When we prepare well for a journey, we will make the most of it.
Holy Week is the opportunity to make a pilgrimage—a spiritual pilgrimage—a journey of faith. Like the Muslims who must visit Mecca, we are called to visit all the events of the amazing grace and mercy of God—the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The cost is only a little time—no money, no tickets, no danger—and you can bring all the family along! Travel with us this week to Jerusalem, to the upper room, to Gethsemane, to Golgotha, and to eternal salvation. We hope to see you there.
May God bless you and keep singing!