I. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord: today we enter the holiest of all weeks of the liturgical year with Palm Sunday, which teaches us to “let God” be God; trusting in God’s Wisdom will not only meet, but shatter and exceed our expectations. Being in touch with our deepest emotions, we, too, realize that we can be singing “Hosanna” at one moment, and “crucify Him” the next. Our change of heart shows the challenge of keeping God “up close and personal.” Let us walk with Jesus this week and let nothing get in the way, not meetings nor even sports.
II. Communal Lenten Reconciliation Service on Palm Sunday: Bishop Medley has called the people of our Diocese to focus on Evangelization for four years. The emphasis last year was ENCOUNTER. There are literally thousands of examples in the sacred Scriptures of people, rich and poor, young and younger, educated and not, who ENCOUNTERED Jesus and were chang-ed forever. Read Luke 15. This year the focus is ACCOMPANIMENT. Jesus has promised and also yearns to accompany you and me on this journey of life. Then Jesus asks us to accompany someone else. Imagine if every person in Saint Stephen Cathedral faith community were to “walk with” someone else in faith—our Church would be full and overflowing! Before we can accompany another, we need to bask in the mercy and forgiveness which Jesus offers us. I strongly urge you to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Sunday. The unconditional mercy which Jesus offers us must be intentionally received. Twelve (12) priests, including Bishop Medley, will be available as confessors as we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at 2:00pm today, Sunday, April 14.
III. Chrism Mass: Every parishioner at the Cathedral and every Catholic in Daviess County, and beyond, should make every effort possible to participate in the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 16, at 6:30pm at the Sports Center. There is no other gathering like the Chrism Mass, where all the priests, deacons, and laity gather around our bishop, who will bless the Oils of Chrism, the Sick, and Catechumens, and distribute these Holy Oils to representatives from every parish and institution throughout the 32 counties of Western Kentucky. Nota Bene: as recommended, there will be NO MASSES at Saint Stephen Cathedral on Tuesday, April 16; the hope and expectation is that you participate in this unique once a year Chrism Mass.
IV. One Celebration Over Three Days: the “Triduum” comes from two Latin words (tres and dies) which mean “a space of three days.” But since we have four days with special names—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday —the “three” may be confusing to some. The confusion is cleared up when we understand how the days are counted. On all high festival days, the Church counts a day in the same way as Jewish people count days and festivals; that is, from sundown to sundown. Thus, the Triduum consist of three twenty-four hour periods that stretch over four calendar days. Therefore, the Easter Triduum begins at sundown on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and concludes with Easter Evening Prayer at sundown on Easter Sunday; its high point is the celebration of Easter Vigil.
A). Cancel All Unnecessary Meetings: cancel whatever needs to be canceled so that you can be present for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil with your family. The Triduum is that important and central to your parish and Church since we celebrate “the greatest mysteries of our redemption.” The Sacred Paschal Triduum, gathering to pray, building toward the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday, is a parish celebration which can only begin at sunset.
B). Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday): 6:00pm at the Cathedral (7:00pm at Blessed Sacrament at 7th and Sycamore Streets) commemorates the institution of Eucharist and the priesthood, as well as Jesus’ command of love and service through the symbolic action of feet washing. Reminder: there will be Rice Bowl Harvesting during this liturgy. There will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until 9:00pm when we will pray the official Night Prayer (Compline) of the Church.
C). Good Friday Services: The Church recommends that the Good Friday service begin at 3:00pm, the traditional time of Jesus’ death which initiates our Redemption; for pastoral reasons (work schedules, school, etc.), the time is often later. If you have a conflict at 3:00pm at the Cathedral, I invite you to attend Blessed Sacrament Chapel (Sycamore & 7th Street) for a 7:00pm Good Friday service. There will be an opportunity to contribute toward the outreach and upkeep of the Holy Land at this liturgy.
V. Strict Day of Fasting and Abstinence (no meat): The Paschal fast is to be kept everywhere on the Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday), but the Roman Missal goes on to recommend that it be continued through Holy Saturday. While the Lenten fast is centered on penance, conversion, and renewal, the Paschal fast is more focused on preparation and anticipation; it is a way of preparing to come, “with spirits uplifted, to the joys of the Lord’s resurrection.” What one eats equals no more than one meal.
VI. Holy Saturday Vigil will begin at 8:00pm (no regularly scheduled 5:00pm Mass): this wonderful service is not to begin before sunset anywhere in the world. Please participate to support our catechumen and candidates, as well as remembering what Jesus did for us in His living, dying, and rising!
VII. Morning Prayer: everyone is invited to pray the “official” Morning Prayer (Lauds) of the Church on Good Friday and Holy Saturday at 9:00am in the McRaith Pastoral Center Chapel (next door at 600 Locust Street). Invite your friends and neighbors!