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Holy Week and Easter

April 7, 2009

180px-chora_church_constantinople_2007_013I was about to write “I love Holy Week and Easter”, but you know, that’s not true – deep down, I really dread this week. What a shocking thing for a priest to say? But I have celebrated the Catholic Rites of Holy Week now for 40 years as a priest, and every year it has become more and more difficult. And yet, every year, I have come away from the last Mass of Easter Day radiant, renewed, more in love with the Blessed Trinity than ever before.

After 40 years, there is an element of boredom – I’ve done it all before. There is also an element of disappointment, that for all the effort that  is put in, to set the stage and create the mood for the three days of drama, for the three days that changed the world, so few people turn up to share the experience.

But then I think of the twelve in the Upper Room being told to repeat the meal to remember Jesus. And just Mary and John left at the foot of the Cross. And just Mary Magdalene in the Garden resigned to burying Jesus if she could just find his body. Little hope, little faith, but utter loyalty, inspired by total love.

That’s when I begin to perk up! Around the Tuesday of Holy Week, I let the “Hosannas” of Palm Sunday fade away, and gear myself up to face with the serenity of Jesus the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the crowd baying “Crucify him”, the constant temptation of the Devil to Jesus to save himself.  Even though I know that I too have betrayed, denied, condemned, tempted my Lord , I dare to perk up.

Why? Because Judas repented; Peter wept and repented and became the chief shepherd; the crowd were forgiven by the Father at the request of Jesus; and the victory of Christ’s death on the Cross and his Resurrection showed the Devil up for the fraud he is. So I know that all my sins are forgiven through this three day Mystery, and that because of it, I have a future so breathtakingly awesome that it makes every earthly joy and love – not dim in comparison (that’s the Calvinists, stupid) – but even more lovely and precious, because eternal.

So if you see me crying during the Easter Hymn from “Cavalleria Rusticana” at the end of the High Mass of Easter Day, it will be tears of joy, the kind of joy we should all have when we wake up in Purgatory and say “Whew! I made it. Heaven next stop”.

Happy Easter!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Todd permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:59 pm

    Dear Fr.

    This might be a bit off topic, however I wanted to draw your attention to some entries on the New Liturgical Movement blog. Over the past week or so Sean has been outlining the pre 1955 Holy Week rites as well as the reforms. This series includes some great pictures of St. Clements as well as some kind words about your parish.

    Just an FYI.


    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      April 7, 2009 5:19 pm

      Thank you – I’ll enjoy reading these.

  2. Fr. David permalink
    April 9, 2009 1:48 pm

    Thank you, Fr. Reid, for your honest reflections on Holy Week. Like you, I often succumb to disappointment, even frustration, that more do not avail themselves of the mysteries and the glories of the Triduum. Even to name this is, in itself, life-giving.

    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      April 9, 2009 3:34 pm

      Greetings, Father. May your Triduum be full of new life.

  3. April 9, 2009 3:27 pm

    Father, this is about the best (i.e. most accurate) description of Holy Week I’ve ever read. I am, however, sorry to hear that it only gets worse as one gets older. I was hoping it would get better! Perh. this is one of those paradoxes of the Gospel; God’s gracious presence experienced as absence, inter alia.

    With prayers and best wishes for a grace-filled Holy Week, in whatever idiom our Lord deigns to grant it!

    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      April 9, 2009 3:37 pm

      Fr Will, God give you a great Holy Triduum. It really does get better in many ways. God is fine; it’s people who disappoint – including one’s self, of course!

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