Monday, April 14, 2014

Engagement Holy Week Walk with Christ

Friends of Faith:
I have had others agree with me that Holy Week is their favorite spiritual and sacramental week of the liturgical year.

I don’t remember very many times, over the years, that I haven’t been able to attend liturgies every day from Thursday thru Sunday – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) and Easter Sunday. It was then, and has over the years become extremely important for me to have a full experience of not just history, but to be a part of Christ’s saving journey for us during Holy Week.
Certainly I didn’t go to church every day when I was younger because I was “holy,” nor do I now. I went then because I was lucky enough to be part of a family who found Christ not just in his Resurrection, but also in his passion and death.

And I go now because I understand that without his passion and death we would not have a Resurrection. Christ’s passion and death, his suffering, allow us the grace of forgiveness, so that through His death we can have the gift of eternal life—Resurrection. I would feel denied and empty if I was unable to engage in the liturgies of His death and Resurrection, not just during Holy Week, but every day of my life.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,*and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” … He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.” Mt 26: 36-45

One of my earliest memories of Holy Week is spending Holy Thursday night with my dad from 11 p.m. to midnight in church. Dad explained to me that our hour of prayer in front of the exposed tabernacle (Eucharistic adoration) was to commemorate the time the disciples spent at watch with Jesus as he prayed, and I remember thinking that I could not and would not be like them – I was going to stay awake (a difficult task for someone age 5 or 6 in a quiet church that late at night).

I know now that I fall asleep as the disciples did each time I sin. I fall asleep each time I don’t fully trust in my faith. And I fall asleep each time I justify a choice that is not God’s will for me.
But I realize that each time I walk this Holy Week with Christ, and that each time I am given the opportunity to celebrate Mass (the Last Supper) I am given another gift, another grace by which to bear my own sufferings, and another opportunity to feel His awe and presence in my life.

The glory of his Resurrection is just that much greater when I have am able to take part in the entire experience celebrated this week. I become a part of the crowd exalting His entrance into Jerusalem by waving of palms on Palm Sunday. I am a witness to the initiation of the Eucharist and priesthood, through the blessing of bread and wine and the washing of the feet of His disciples at His Last Supper on Holy Thursday.
I feel empty of His presence by the lack of Mass on Good Friday (while there is a liturgy service, no Eucharist is celebrated anywhere in the world on the day we commemorate Jesus’ death.) And great sorrow in the reading of Holy Scripture which tells of the pain and suffering Jesus Christ experienced – knowing that it is my sin for which He was nailed to and hung on the cross.

And I have witnessed with joy the rebirth given to those who symbolically become new lights in faith as they fully join the church through the blessing of the new water in baptism and in the first communions, and confirmations celebrated at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
Lord God, make me one with you. Help every human to have the opportunities I have been given, to be a Christian who walks with You, who is present in both Your death and Resurrection and who participates fully in the Sacraments You have initiated for us in faith. Thank You for the gift of salvation. May I be a faithful disciple whose awe for you keeps me awake, engaged and present in the journey. Amen.

Every ritual, every veneration and blessing allows me to walk one step closer with Jesus: to walk, fall, deny, and to be forgiven, as one of His faithful disciples; to feel the sorrow and pain of His mother, Mary; even to bear the judgments, hatred and the misunderstandings of the crowd.
If you have not been blessed to experience these days with a community within a church I would invite your participation in the liturgy of a Holy Week,

Engage. Make Christ’s journey more, take the opportunity and make it your priority to become one with Him on the journey He walked for us. Without you, His journey for us means nothing.
Have a Blessed Holy Week and a Joyous Easter,
In Christ,

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