April 17, 2011

April 17, 2011 Column Father De Celles

Father’s Corner April 17, 2011

Today, we begin Holy Week, the most important days of the Christian year, days in which we spiritually, mentally and emotionally enter into the profundity of the mystery of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection. We begin with “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion,” as the crowds in Jerusalem greet Jesus with great anticipation, hoping he is the Messiah, whom they think will raise an army to destroy their Roman occupiers, and restore their nation to greatness. But as the week moves on and Christ refuses to do anything of the sort, they move from Palm Sunday’s jubilant shouts of “Hosanna!” to Good Friday’s hateful shouts of “Crucify him!” From the laying of palm branches at his feet, to nailing him to the cross.

In some ways, this tells the story of most of our lives: one day we praise Jesus by our love, prayers and good works, and the next day we crucify him by our sins. Every Sunday at Mass (hopefully) we praise Jesus, singing “Hosanna in the highest.” But how long until we betray him, as Judas did, by throwing his commandments aside as we go about our daily lives? How long until we deny him as we fail to pray to him? How long until we join the soldiers in scourging him, whipping our brothers with the lash of words of ridicule or gossip? How long until we place the crown of thorns on his head with petty sins of selfishness, and pride—and press it down into his skull as we crush our neighbors’ faith by our scandalous behavior? How long after that will it take for us to drive the nails into his hands and feet and the spear into his side, as our mortal sins open the wounds that kill him?
This week, see in his wounds your sins. But also see in them His love for you—the ineffable love of God the Son who stripped himself of the glory of heaven to hang on a cross, bleeding and gasping for air unto death. How great a love is this—and for us, who have betrayed him, mocked him and nailed him to his cross. Mourn for your sins, grieve for his pain, but also let yourself be overwhelmed by his love.

This is Holy Week—make it truly “holy,” which really means “set apart.” Set it apart from other weeks and days of the year. Yes, go about your business, but do so in the company of Christ at every moment. Pausefromtimetotimeandask,whatwasJesusthinkingthismorningofthe4th daybeforethecross,or this3rd eveningbeforehisscourging?Washealreadyexperiencingtheagonyinhisheartthatflowedover in the garden of Gethsemane? Was he thinking of me? Was he forgiving me, and all of us sinners, for what we were about to do to Him?

Remember to pray, keep your Lenten penances and to avoid all sin—to love one another as Christ has loved you! To truly try, every moment, to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
And take advantage of the very special means the Church provides to help you move more deeply into these mysteries—to set the days apart. Go to daily Mass, or come to church when no one else is here and spend an hour watching with the Lord in the Tabernacle. Remember to join the Universal Church in doing penance by abstaining from meat and fasting on Good Friday (mandatory) and Holy Saturday (strongly encouraged). Most especially, come to the unique liturgies of the week: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 3 p.m. on Good Friday (take the afternoon off!), and even the 2-hour Easter vigil on Holy Saturday night to celebrate Jesus’ true triumph: over sin and death in the Resurrection. Make this truly a Holy Week.

A few words of thanks. I want to thank Teri Tolpa, who has done a wonderful job of chairing our Respect Life Committee these last two years—much of that time commuting 60 miles after moving to Front Royal. Teri will be leaving us this summer to go to graduate school in Denver. Our deepest thanks for a job extremely well done!

Also, thanks to Mairim Bartholomew who has been producing this bulletin for last 10 years. Unfortunately for us, the demands of a full-time job make it necessary for her to hand on the bulletin to someone else. Most of us don’t realize how difficult it is to put a parish bulletin together, having to coordinate deadlines and information coming from all over the place—and a pastor who is constantly late in turning in his column—it’s a tough job. God bless you, Mairim, and thank you for all your dedicated service.

Blessing of Easter Food Baskets. Remember the blessing of the Easter Food Baskets on Holy Saturday at 12 noon in the church. This blessing goes back to ancient customs in various cultures to bless the food that would be consumed in the Easter meal, especially food that had been traditionally given up during Lent: meats, dairy products, eggs, etc. Also, bread is blessed to remind us of the Bread of Life.

Have a truly Holy Week.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles