Saturday, March 15, 2008
Holy Week...Holy Time!
Once again as Catholics we gather to commemorate and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the City of David on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. This liturgical observation starts the beginning of Holy Week, where faithful Catholics follow the actions of Jesus towards the fulfillment of the Paschal Mystery. This period should present a reflective and holy period for the worlds Christian faithful. Not only do we celebrate the historical events of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, we proclaim the transcendent power of God’s eternal mystery and salvation that continues to transform the entire world through the message of Jesus Christ.
As a Catholic , the rituals and ceremonies of Holy Week indicate for me very clearly the true historical character and roots grounded in antiquity of our Catholic faith. The week clearly reminds all of us, that our Church and it’s liturgical expressions are critically important for our present Catholic faith as we recall the institution of our sacred Sacraments during this symbolically rich week.
On Sunday, parishes will wave palm to recall the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Our priests, bishops and deacons will wear the liturgical color of red to accentuate the significance of this day on the liturgical calendar but also to highlight the journey that begins towards Calvary after this triumphal reception of Jesus.
The Catholic Sacred liturgy during this week presents all of the richness of signs and symbols through visual use of vestments, the shouts of the hostile crowd during the narration of the Passion, and the tactile reverencing of the Cross on Good Friday. Truly this week is one that is most sacred and our Catholic liturgical traditions reflect the rich tapestry of woven traditions that make up the Church’s worshipping life.
Holy Week also provides a great pastoral opportunity to educate parishioners about the various signs and symbols that the celebrations offer to the faithful. It is an opportune time to teach all ages of the faithful about the historical development of the Roman Liturgy, the importance of Holy Orders and the Eucharist and how this week represents our continuity of faith with the Church of the past, the present and the future.
For this author, Holy Week is the time to immerse oneself in ritual and sacramental appreciation of every sacred day, because our common faith is being demonstrated through our liturgy. Catholics should have a special appreciation for our Holy Week rites, because they most significantly reflect our Catholic Passover through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The rites of Holy Week indicate the Church’s anticipation of Jesus as the New Moses and our belief that the Kingdom of God is truly manifested in the Church and her sacraments.
This week when you participate in the most ancient and sacred celebrations of the Church, remember this is our celebration of new life in Jesus Christ. The sacred time we enter into during Holy Week, calls all Catholic believers into an expression of “kairotic” time every day of the year. That is why we celebrate and remember, so our faith will be manifested in our actions every day.