All of creation kneels and bows its head in silence. The Creator of life and love has suffered, died and given his life for love of us. Will we respond with sorrow for our sins and deepening love for God, or will we be distracted by the world?
We have read the passion of the Lord Jesus to begin Holy Week. This is the most sacred of all weeks when all our prayers, fasting, good works and sacrifices are purified in the fire of Jesus’ passionate love for us.
During this week the Church calls us to quiet reflection, preparation and celebration of the three holiest days of the year – the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Sunday.
First, Holy Thursday, when Jesus Christ gave us the new covenant, his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. At that Last Supper only his Twelve Apostles were present. They represent the Twelve Tribes of the New Israel, the Catholic Church with its ordained priesthood.
He tells these ordained men that the bread he breaks is his body: ―This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in memory of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.‖ Cf. Lk. 22:19-20
After the Last Supper, the First Holy Mass, Jesus tells them to pray to conquer temptation, yet, one of his Apostles, Judas, betrays him with a kiss. Peter, the leader of the Apostles, denies him three times. Peter escapes and weeps bitterly for his sins. Jesus is dragged off, beaten, blindfolded, crowned with thorns and in the morning, he picks up his cross to win his friends back to the faithful friendship they denied him.
On Good Friday we celebrate the fact that Jesus offered his Body in perfect love to God and for us upon the altar of the Cross. We celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion from which all saving grace flows as we hear him say from the cross, ―Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.‖ Cf. 23:24
He bows his head in the silence of death. All of creation goes silent with him. Good Friday and Holy Saturday are days of silence. Our intensified fasting and praying from Thursday night to the Easter Vigil or Sunday morning is the prelude of breaking this silence to new life of the Lord’s Resurrection when we once again sing the ―Gloria‖ and the ―Alleluia.‖
For we celebrate Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday with hearts renewed by the gift of the Holy Spirit received at baptism, sealed at Confirmation and poured forth once again in the Divine Liturgy. Our hearts blaze with love for God since purified in the Sacrament of Confession and penances united to Jesus Christ, and now consummated in receiving Holy Communion in the state of grace.
We feast on the Holy Eucharist, which is a sign of our complete following of Jesus in his Catholic Church and our complete striving to live God the Father’s Holy Command-ments. We recall the words of Christ at the Last Supper: ―As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.‖ Jn. 15:9-10.
It is sometimes very difficult to serve God and others, but in celebrating this Holy Week and every Mass hereafter, we see Jesus perfectly fulfill God’s commandments of love and life, and we hear him say, ―If this test can pass me by, if you can take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but, Heavenly Father, your will be done.‖
Let God’s will be done within you and your family by doing some penance every Friday throughout the year in honor of Christ’s crucifixion. Then, at every Sunday Mass, with sorrow for our sins, humble gratitude in our hearts and praise on our lips, we can give God the greatest glory and share in the saving cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We celebrate Easter for a full week, which we call the Easter Octave, since for eight days we extend the Easter Vigil. Then on the Second Sunday of Easter, now called Divine Mercy Sunday, we read how the Risen Lord Jesus appears to his apostles in the upper room, the cenacle, and shows them his hands and his side.
He said to them, ―Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.‖ And then he breathed on them the Holy Spirit and said, ―Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.‖ Cf. Jn. 20:19-23
On the night that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, proving that he is truly the Son of God and the Son of Man, he gave the Catholic Church the great gift of mercy, the Sacrament of Confession. Please celebrate this great gift of Confession which draws down God’s love, grace, mercy and peace for you and the world.
Also know that there is a special Novena to Divine Mercy beginning on Good Friday and then ending on Divine Mercy Sunday. You can find pamphlets of Divine Mercy in the back of our churches.
Please note that there are many opportunities to go to confession with an opportunity with multiple priests on Wednesday, April 5, 7:15-8:30PM at Holy Trinity, after the Stations of the Cross which begin at 6:30PM.
May you and your family have a blessed Holy Week, Easter Sunday and Easter Season,
Fr. Thomas McCabe