It always touches my heart to receive the palms on Palm Sunday, and hear “hosanna in the highest” juxtaposed to the cry “Crucify Him.” To hear the mandate to love one another, accompanied by the washing of the feet, the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood truly makes Holy Thursday “holy.” And what can we say of Good Friday? To watch people come up one-by-one, to embrace, to kiss, to touch, or offer an act of reverence to the cross of Christ is one of the most profound moments in which a person can participate. As I watch people coming up to the Cross, I see those who are dealing with illness, loss; I see parents with newborn children, all different circumstances, as they file up one-by-one to have their moment to give reverence to the cross of Christ. We recognize that Christ died for each one of us and that makes that Friday so “Good.” The somber, quiet mood of Holy Saturday gives us time to reflect on our own death, and just how fragile life is, and how we should treat each other with care. And as the sun begins to set, we prepare for the Easter Vigil, where we proclaim the resurrection of Christ and our share in that resurrection.
I say it again, just because we call it Holy Week doesn’t mean it will be holy. We each have to do our part. First, we have to show up, participate, and let go of all the things that distract us and focus on the beautiful events that will unfold for us during these sacred days of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the celebration of Easter. It is my privilege to pray for all of you daily, and in a special way, I will remember you during the celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Season. May each heart know the joy of the risen Christ during the 50 days of Easter!
“O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine! All praise and all Thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
If you have been at a Mass with me recently you may have noticed that I have been singing this little verse as a meditation after the reception of Holy Communion, if time allows. While the song was included in an Italian prayer book in the 19th century, it became popular in Ireland and other places with various melodies and verses. I am going to make this particular verse the official antiphon for our Eucharistic Revival throughout the diocese, and it is my hope that every Catholic will know this song by heart. It is my typical practice to intone this verse on a low note and then repeat it twice more, going up a third each time so that by the third time, it is a crescendo reverberating throughout the church. The other two verses have a simple, beautiful summary of eucharistic theology. The second verse, “Now come, all you who labor and sorrow and in pain, come, eat this bread from heaven; thy peace and strength regain.” And the third verse is classic, “Lord Jesus, we adore Thee, our victim and our priest, whose precious Blood and Body become our Sacred Feast.” I ask all of our choirs and musicians to teach this to our parishioners. How beautiful if all of our First Communion classes could sing these three verses as a meditation after the reception of their First Holy Communion. The beauty of this song is in its simple, straightforward theology. The organ is not needed, no piano, no accompaniment—just the voices of God’s people who believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, singing that beautiful refrain in an act of worship. Let us remember the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “May our adoration never cease.”
To everyone: a blessed Holy Week
Published in the March 31, 2023 issue of The Mirror.