My Dear Friends:
What a difference a year makes! Last year when I sat down to write this column for Palm Sunday, it was to detail to each of you how to best experience Holy Week at home since our church was closed, and we were forced to celebrate the most important week of the year virtually.
Thankfully, this year our parish family will once again be united here to celebrate the Paschal Mystery. We will be able to hold the palms in our hands again, participate in the reading of the Passion, witness the washing of the feet and experience everything that makes this week so unique. While there will still be some “Covid-forced” wrinkles to our celebrations, let us not lose sight of the fact of the biggest blessing we have this year: we are here!
Today we gather to commemorate Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Our joy is the same joy the crowds had 2000 years ago, but it is a joy that our Lord knew would be fleeting because notice how in Mass today we go from welcoming the Lord with palms to almost two minutes later singing the psalm “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Psalm 22:2)” Those crowds who turned on Jesus later that week and went from shouting “Hosana!” to “Crucify him!” are not much different than many of us who come into church and exalt the Lord and then with our actions crucify him later in the week with our sins. This is a time of repentance to really embrace the cross and to not only ask the Lord for forgiveness, but to thank and exalt the Lord for enduring so violent a death for our salvation.
Thursday we will gather in the evening for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper which is always one of the most emotional Masses of the year for me personally. We celebrate the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist. One cannot exist without the other. The Washing of the Feet reminds your priests that we are simply called to serve: to do what others will not do, and then, more importantly, to feed you the Bread of Life. We will have a simple Eucharistic procession to Comber Hall where the Altar of Repose will be located for prayer until Midnight. Stay and spend time with the Lord.
On Good Friday, silence overwhelms us. The Veneration of the Cross is probably the biggest change we have this year. Instead of kissing the crucifix as we are accustomed to, the faithful will process up and bow or genuflect to the cross. After the evening Spanish service, the procession around the block that we are used to will be shortened to mirror the procession on Holy Thursday evening.
Finally, on Holy Saturday night, we come to the greatest liturgy of the year: the Easter Vigil! We have so many catechumens who will be welcomed into the church that night. Come and join us as we conclude the week by rejoicing at the ultimate victory of our Lord over death.
Please be welcoming to all the visitors who will join us this week. Please be patient and follow the instructions of our ushers who have volunteered to spend time away from their families to ensure everyone is accommodated and feels welcomed. But that welcome and that hospitality starts with me and you: if you see someone at Mass you’ve never seen before: welcome them. This is our greatest week as a parish, and we cannot wait to celebrate it with all of you!
God Bless You All,