April 1, 2023 Column Father De Celles

Holy Week begins Today. One of the keys to Lent is meditation on our Lord’s Sacred Passion—His
suffering and death. This week we do this in a particularly intense way, as we spiritually place ourselves
with Our Lord as He suffers in His last hours: as He agonizes in the garden, is scourged, spat upon,
mocked, and crowned with thorns; as He carries the cross, is nailed to it and hung upon it for three hours
to die an excruciating death. We look upon Jesus enduring all this, and remember that He did this all out
of love for His Father and, most amazingly, out of love for us: to pay for our sins (our failures to love God
and our neighbor), to save us from eternal damnation, and to enable us to share in His own glorious life.
He suffered all this not in spite of the fact that we don’t love Him as we should, but because of that fact:
He loves us and wants to save us from our lack of love.
Who can look at this and not be overwhelmed, not simply with grief for His suffering, but also
with love for Him who has loved us so much? How can we not open our hearts to Him, and see that our
sins are not worth causing Him this pain, not worth walking away from the One who loves us so
incredibly? How can we not ask ourselves why we love our sins so much, when we should be loving Him
instead? How can we see His love and not recognize that the way we love Him and each other falls so far
short of this standard? How can we see all this and not open our hearts to the grace that flows from His
sacred wounds to help us to love as we should?
For almost 40 days we’ve been trying to grow in love through Christ’s grace and our Lenten
penances. Most of us have met with mixed results. But we have one more week: let’s resolve to make it a
truly “holy” week centered on Jesus’ suffering and ineffable love.
We can do this in many ways, beginning with redoubling our personal efforts of Lenten prayers,
sacrifices and acts of charity. But we also do so in a wonderful way by joining in the works of the Church,
especially by coming together for the special liturgies of this Holy Week.
We have begun this today, with this unique Mass of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord,
with the blessed Palms, the Solemn Entrance and reading of the Passion.
Then on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, come to daily Mass—let’s fill the church with
prayer! I know it can be inconvenient for you, but the scourging at the pillar was more than
“inconvenient” for Our Lord. And don’t forget Adoration/Exposition on Wednesday. And if you haven’t
been yet this Lent, come to Confession—our Lord awaits you there, to wash you clean with the grace
pouring from His side on the Cross. We have confessions every day (except Holy Thursday and Easter
Sunday) with extra priests all week. (Please see the schedule inserted in this bulletin for all the special
events and liturgies of this week.)
On Holy Thursday, there is no Mass during the day, but in the evening join us here in the parish
as Lent officially ends and the Triduum (“three days”) begins as we celebrate The Mass of The Lord’s
Supper, commemorating the institution of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Priesthood. Afterwards,
we walk with the Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane as we process with the Eucharist to an altar in the
Parish Hall, where the Lord invites you to “remain here, and watch with me…watch and pray,” for at least
a few minutes or until midnight.
Then comes Good Friday, the holiest day of the year. It is a day of fasting and abstinence as we
share in the suffering of the Lord. We should keep the day with quiet, reflection, and charity—even at
work—especially from noon to three. There is no Mass; instead, we gather in the church at 3:00 in the
afternoon, the hour of our Lord’s death, for the solemn Celebration of the Passion of the Lord. I beg
you not to miss it, even if it means leaving work early! This is the highpoint of Lent, the holiest hour of
the year—come and be with the Church to worship Christ at the foot of His Cross, at the hour of His
death; what in the world could be more important than this?!
We begin this Liturgy with the priest silently entering the bare sanctuary (all decoration is
removed and the tabernacle is empty) and prostrating himself before the altar, and we all join him by
kneeling. We then read the Passion in narrative/dialogue form, from the Gospel of John. After the
readings, the priest prays ten ritual intercessions, calling down our Lord’s mercy on the Church and the
Then the priest brings a large crucifix to the sanctuary, and the people come forward to personally
venerate the Cross, by a genuflection, kiss, or some other gesture. While this ritual veneration can take

some time to complete, I’m always amazed and moved how everyone seems to embrace this, as the
beautiful strains of our choir and the solemn atmosphere of the church help us to place ourselves for a few
minutes next to the Blessed Mother, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene who waited for three hours at the
foot of the Cross. After veneration, the priests bring the Blessed Sacrament (consecrated at Mass the night
before) from the sacristy and the faithful receive Holy Communion. Afterwards the Cross is left in the
sanctuary for those who wish to venerate it later in the day. Stations of the Cross are prayed at 7:00pm.
On Holy Saturday the Church continues its somber reflective mood, as She strongly encourages
us to voluntarily continue to fast and abstain from meat as we do on Good Friday. Mass is never offered
during the day on Holy Saturday, but at 8:30pm (after sunset) the celebration of Easter Sunday begins
with the Easter Vigil Mass. It is the “Mother” of all liturgies with all sorts of unique ceremonies: the
blessing and presentation of the Easter Candle; the chanting of the Exsultet; a greatly extended Liturgy of
the Word; and Baptism, reception into the Church, and Confirmation for adults and several older children.
It is a glorious Mass, and I encourage all to attend. (However, lasting two hours, I must give fatherly
caution that it can be tough for little ones).
This is a wondrous week, the holiest week of the year. Let’s not squander this opportunity to
change our lives so bereft of true love, to get caught up in the awesomeness of the Love of Christ Jesus.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles