“I have risen, and I am with you still. The Lord is truly risen, to Him be glory and power for all the ages of eternity.”
That is the antiphon from the Mass during the day for the Sunday of the resurrection. On Easter morning, the Gospel, according to John, will speak of “the stone removed from the tomb,” the details of the burial cloths, the disciples running to the tomb, and the one who had arrived at the tomb first, who went in… “he saw and believed.”
Of course, a lot has to happen before we get to that point. We must walk with Our Lord through the beautiful liturgies of Holy Week. I’m always struck by the first Gospel of Palm Sunday. As Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, the crowds will cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” And I am struck by how fickle the human heart can be because within a couple of days, those same people will cry out “Let Him be crucified.” It is a great study of the human heart! Let us be there and own our personal infidelity!
In an article from Extension Magazine, there is an interview with a seminarian from a Diocese in Puerto Rico. In his pastoral training, the young man came to understand that “A priest without his people is not a priest.” That is a beautiful insight as we celebrate the Chrism Masses. All the priests of the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau, in St. Mary Cathedral, in Cape Girardeau, On Mon., April 11, and in St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield, the next night, Tue., April 12, will renew their commitment to minister to the people of God. Then, we will bless the sacred oils, oil of the sick, oil of baptism, and the sacred chrism, to be used for the sacramental life of our people throughout the diocese. Without the people, there would be no need for such oils. Without the people, there would be no sacramental life to celebrate. How true, “A priest without his people is not a priest.” I invite everyone, especially those coming into the Church this Easter, to make a point to come and celebrate in this beautiful liturgy with our priests.
Technically, Lent ends with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 14 this year. At that point, we enter into the Sacred Triduum (Three Days) of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. On Holy Thursday, we hear the words of Our Lord who gives us the new commandment, the Mandatum, to love one another, symbolized by the washing of feet. We celebrate the institution of the priesthood and of the Eucharist. Typically, our churches are open late for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reserved in a temporary location. I invite everyone, especially those coming into the Church this Easter, to make a point to be with us to celebrate this beautiful moment.
Whose heart is not moved at the Good Friday service when each member gathered is invited to come up and give reverence to the Cross of Christ? I always find that to be so touching. I have the privilege from my chair to watch as one by one people come up to bow, to genuflect, to touch or to kiss the Cross of Christ. But I’m always sort of sad as well because I know there are some people, maybe lifelong Catholics, who have never taken the time to come to that ceremony. If Holy Week is to be truly holy, we must allow these ceremonies to interrupt our daily schedule. Let us clear our calendars and make a point to participate in all that this week offers us.
And what can be said of the Easter Vigil? It is the ultimate, the apex of all of our liturgical celebrations. It is from the Easter Vigil that our liturgical life flows. We will bless the Easter candle and proclaim that “by his glorious and holy wounds, may Christ the Lord guard and protect us … Followed by the threefold proclamation, “The light of Christ.” We will sing the Easter proclamation and immerse ourselves in the great Scriptural stories that define our salvation history. And at the Easter vigil, we have the first proclamation of the resurrection of Christ. Here, people will be baptized and be received into the Church with the fullness of the sacraments. I invite everyone to make a point to be with us to celebrate the resurrection of Christ at the Easter Vigil!
LET THE WEEK DISRUPT YOUR LIVES
During recent gatherings with our youth in Carthage and in Cape Girardeau, I invited them to participate in these sacred days. As I’ve said many times before, just because we call the week “Holy Week,” doesn’t mean it will be. Unfortunately, it can be a week just like any other week if we ignore these beautiful rituals. I encourage everyone to allow these days to disrupt your daily lives: turn off the computer, turn off the television, and make a commitment to walk with Jesus during the Triduum. If you do, on Easter morning when you hear the Gospel of John you too will “see and believe.” In anticipation, I wish all of you a Blessed Easter Season!