I. A Coronavirus Holy Week with Meaning: We are living in an unusual time riveted with fear and uncertainty. We have no control over this virus which has turned our lives upside down. The Gospel story last week of raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) is full of uncertainty, doubt, grieving, and confusion; what turned things around was the faith of Martha and Mary. During this coronavirus season of our life, let us rely upon the gift of faith, deepen that faith in Jesus Christ, and share that faith generously. What better time to do this than Holy Week 2020!?
Instead of gathering as Church, as the People of God, you are asked to gather in your “Domestic Church” or “Home Church” to form community at a distance. It will not be the same, but it can be good. We can, we must make the best of this very difficult time. We need to take Holy Week more seriously than ever before.
II. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord: At church we will bless palm for our households. We will reserve plenty of Blessed Palms that will be distributed when public church services resume. Please note that the blessed palm becomes a sacramental to be used with respect, reminding us of the passion and death of the Lord. The same people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem singing, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David” were the same people who later screamed, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Though hard to admit, WE can be like that. Our “live-stream” begins at 9:00am.
III. Lent Ends. Triduum Begins: The season of Lent emphasizing the three ancient tried-and-true disciplines of fasting, praying, and almsgiving overflows into the celebration of the Triduum (Latin for “three days”: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil/Sunday). Truly, it is one mystery celebrated over Three Days (Triduum). Since most everything is canceled already because of the coronavirus, it is my hope and expectation that more of you will be able to celebrate Holy Week from your “Home Church” by viewing the services live-streamed from the Cathedral. The Triduum is most sacred since we celebrate “the greatest mysteries of our redemption.” What better time to grow our faith!
IV. Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates the institution of Eucharist and the priesthood, as well as Jesus’ command of love and service. COVID-19 prevents us from washing feet at church as a symbol of our desire to serve; however, wash the feet of your family members at home symbolizing your call to serve your family and beyond. Every baptized person is called to be a disciple, one who serves the needs of others. Read, Reflect on John 13ff. Join our live-streamed Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper April 9 at 6:00pm.
V. Good Friday Services: The Church recommends that the Good Friday service begin at 3:00pm, the traditional time of Jesus’ death on the Cross which initiates our Redemption. “Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him“ (Philippians 2:8–9). Note that priests enter and prostrate themselves before the altar as a sign of humility and prayer. We lower ourselves to the ground, acknowledging our littleness in the face of the awesome mystery of Christ love. You could have adoration of the cross in your “Home Church.” “Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.”
VI. Strict Day of Fasting and Abstinence:The Paschal fast is to be kept 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. 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.” Good Friday is a day unlike any other.
VII. Easter Vigil: We have seven catechumens who are preparing to be baptized, and thirteen candidates (already baptized) to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. These individuals have been seriously preparing and eagerly awaiting, along with their sponsors, for this special holy night. We will bring them into the Church as soon as this pandemic is over. In the meantime, we assure them of our prayers, support, and example. Our Easter Vigil will be streamed live Saturday, April 11 at 6:00pm.
VIII. Easter Sunday! Our celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord continues on Easter Sunday! Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen! We do not leave behind the cross, we rejoice in it! We call upon Mary Magdalene, the first witness to tell us what she heard and saw: Jesus has been raised from the dead! The renewal of our baptismal promises takes the place of our Creed. Baptism is where our Christian journey began. We promise again to live our faith fully. This Day of Resurrection is so important that WE as Church celebrate it for fifty days onto Pentecost! Please, please join us virtually Easter Sunday, April 12 at 9:00am when our celebration will be live-streamed.