Pastoral Note: This post was originally given on April 12, 2014. I share it once again in the hope that all of us will enter more fully into the gift of this sacred time. Fr. Andrew
Study: Recall a time in your life when you experienced death and new life. Where did you find the strength? Who helped you through this time?
Pray: Spend some time reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus this week. Read Mark 14-16; Matthew 26-28; Luke 22-24; and John 18-21. Take in as many prayer opportunities as possible in your parish.
Serve: Who in your life is dealing with life and death issues right now? How might you be present to them to offer help, comfort, or strength?
We enter into the heart of the Christian mystery: Holy Week offers us a time to pause, reflect, and pray as the Church ponders on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This mystery, often called the Paschal Mystery, recalls us to the saving work of the Lord. His death frees of from the burdens of sin and death, and his resurrection opens for us the path to eternal life. This mystery is profoundly experienced over the Triduum – the 3 Great Days:
- Holy Thursday – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
- Good Friday – the Passion of the Christ
- Easter (Vigil/Day) – the Resurrection of the Lord
On Holy Thursday we find ourselves in Jerusalem, eating with the disciples at the Lord’s Supper and feeling awkward as he washes their feet – wondering how we would react if he did that for us. We might identify with Peter or Judas – especially when we consider the times we have willingly betrayed or turned our back on the Lord.
On Good Friday we experience the physical pain, emotional abandonment, and personal humiliation on the path to Calvary (also called Golgotha or Skull Place) and look on with horror at the cruel death of Jesus. We might also consider the times we have helped others – as Simon did when he was forced to carry the Cross of Christ. And then we stand in profound sorrow with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, helpless as the innocent suffer injustice.
On Easter we wait in vigil and rise early in the morning with Mary Magdalen, only to find to our wonder and joy that the tomb is empty: Christ is alive! Our world, like that of the apostles, is changed forever as we experience new hope and life.
A word to the wise – we get out of Holy Week what we put into it. Here are some simple ways for an incredible experience.
- Make church services a top priority – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter (Vigil or Day).
- Take time to read and reflect on the scriptures (see at the top under “Pray”).
- Make Holy Thursday an opportunity to offer a special act of service or kindness to another.
- Make Good Friday fasting extra special with a gift to a particular charity that helps the poor.
- Make Easter a time of gratitude – take a quiet moment to count our blessings and thank the Lord.
- Find some time throughout this week to tell the people in our lives how much we love them.
May this be a time for all of us to grow closer to the Lord and one another.