Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fr. Perrone on Holy Week and why we should be in Church Thursday night and Friday afternoon

From his column this Sunday, Fr. Perrone, in his own words, below.  If you are looking for Holy Week and Easter Sunday info, you can find it here, along with photos from past years.

This is always the most difficult week of the Church year. Difficult for us, traumatic for our Lord. I therefore ought not to complain. The modern trend in the Church has been to emphasize the Lord’s Resurrection and to downplay His Passion. This is considered an enlightened view over the medieval and cheerless concentration on the Lord’s sufferings and death. Perhaps as tensions continue to build in the world, as the persecution of Christians increases, as all viewpoints except those which represent Catholic moral teaching are welcome, as evils of all kinds are making rapid advances into our once comfortable Catholic lives, then–maybe just then–we will have second thoughts on our dismissal of the suffering Christ, of His cross, of the Church members as sharers in the Passion.

The spiritual tradition of the great writers on the spiritual life favors meditation on the sacred Passion of Christ for making progress in holiness. This comes by way of thinking about the various moments in the story, from the Last Supper through the Lord’s burial; but it also includes participation through the liturgy in the annual reenactment of the original Holy Week through the sacred ceremonies that take place this week–this by way of mystery rather than by theatrical dramatics. The Church does not pretend to redo the sacred events of Holy Week as if going through a Passion play. There is rather a re-activation (pardon the jargon word) of the essential words and actions which took place back then for the benefit of the Church here and now. In other words, there is grace which is imparted to those who devoutly follow Christ in the days of this week, graces not obtained otherwise. The ideal would be for every Christian to become so one in mind and in affections with Christ throughout these days of Holy Week as to take on a likeness to Him that is incomparable by any other means. For this reason I strongly encourage you to make every reasonable effort to come to the church this week for Mass and the other sacred liturgical ceremonies, not only to derive benefits from participation in them, but also to insert yourselves into the mystery itself. Holy Week is a relived experience for the Church, a renewing of its inner life by engaging the whole mystical body of Christ in a real union with Him, the principal Agent of the events.

The week begins today with Palm Sunday, with its strange dual character of triumph in our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem as Messiah, and of His ‘defeat’ in the solemn reading of His Passion and death. Palm Sunday leaves us with an ambiguous feeling. The palms, the procession, the Hosannas dominate the earlier part of the ceremonies with exhilaration until the liturgical shift is made to the scriptures which refer to the sufferings and death of Christ.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week have an eerie passive-aggressive (again, pardon the expression) feeling. All is exteriorly calm while the forces of evil lurk in the background, conspiring against Jesus, ready to erupt with the violence on Thursday and Friday.

There ought not to be a single person in this parish who would rather stay at home Thursday night this week or on Good Friday afternoon, or prefer to do anything other than participate in the divine services. I realize that some may be impeded from attending these days from work or other responsibilities, but this absence ought to be with great regret. One would be missing out of the very soul of Holy Week to be wilfully absent from the liturgical ceremonies.

Easter Vigil is the most extraordinary Mass of the whole year in which the movement from Christ’s inert body to His rising from the dead is expressed in liturgical signs, chants and ceremonies. If all goes well, new Catholics will be born here Saturday night in baptism, confirmation and the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood.

Please keep the inserted page of Holy Week services and confessions so as to reduce calls to the rectory for a schedule of the week’s events. One may also consult our parish website. [See also my post with Holy Week info including pictures from recent years to get a glimpse of what it is like at Assumption Grotto, and there is secured parking].

All the forces of our parish league together in Holy Week, making a huge effort of standing with the Lord in His Passion and Resurrection. Don’t miss out. Come to be enriched; come to lend yourselves to the Lord and allow His saving grace to embrace you.

Fr. Perrone

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