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Archives: March 2020
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
“Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” These words from our Gospel this Sunday were spoken by Martha in response to the death of her brother Lazarus. I would like to suggest, though, that they represent the feeling (if not the actual words) of many of us when we encounter difficulties. It is very easy to think that because we live a good life, because we pray and go to church regularly, that bad things shouldn’t happen to us. The reality is, though, that sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know why this is. We just know that it does happen. More importantly, though, we know that even when bad things happen, God is with us. God suffers with us in our pain. God rejoices with us in our happiness. And God grieves with us in the face of death. I say this because in our Gospel for this weekend we are told that when they brought Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus he “wept.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel, it is also important to note that while Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead, it is important to note that this was a resuscitation --- a return to this life. While it pre-figures the resurrection, the difference is not just one of degree, but of kind. The resurrected life, is not just this life forever and ever. Rather it is a sharing in the very life of our God. We don’t know what the resurrected life will be like, but we do know and believe that in the resurrection we will be happy forever with our God.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet during the Babylonian captivity. This reading opens with the words: “Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.” These words should not be taken as a prophecy of the Resurrection, (At the time of Ezekiel the Jewish people did not have a firm belief in an afterlife.) but rather as a promise of restoration, e.g. eventually the Jews would be brought back to the land of Israel.
Our second reading this Sunday is again taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In it we are reminded that “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Is it easy or difficult for you to believe in Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of eternal life?
2. What helps you or what stands in the way of believing in eternal life?
3. How do you know when God’s Spirit is dwelling in you?
The Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Holy Saturday – Easter Sunday) is my most cherished time of the entire liturgical year. This was instilled in me from a young age as the celebration of the Sacred Triduum was an essential part of my family’s religious experience.
I fondly remember being one of the twelve who had their feet washed on Holy Thursday, the year I was confirmed. Even then I had a real sense that this small gesture embodies the essence of what it means to be a Christian. And being a lover of processions, how could I ever forget the solemn procession with the Blessed Sacrament.
At 3:00pm on Good Friday my grandmother gathered our family and everyone who worked in her shoe factory for prayer. I don’t remember what she said but I remember the gravity of the moment. At night, we walked the Stations of the Cross which were set up throughout the city. I will never forget the silent and solemn cadence of the movement and the music.
Holy Saturday, known to us as Silent Saturday, was a very quiet day. We spoke in hushed voices and tried not to disturb anyone from their prayerful ponderings and hopeful anticipation. At night, we all participated in the great Easter Vigil. Though our Easter Fire at The Basilica is much more impressive than the one we had at home, I still remember standing around it and experiencing the light shining in the darkness. From the very first time I heard the Exsultet sung I wished that one day I would sing it myself.
Easter Sunday was a most holy day which we spent in church around the table of the Lord and then around the banquet table in my grandmother’s home.
Though I realize things are very different today, all these memories will come flashing back when we celebrate this year’s Triduum.
Below are some suggestions for a fruitful celebration of the Paschal Mystery today.
- If at all possible take the Triduum off from work and make it a short retreat.
- Carve out time for personal prayer.
- Try to participate in all our Triduum liturgies. You can find a list in the Newsletter and online.
- When participating in the liturgies do so with full heart, mind, and soul.
- Bring your family to the liturgies. We engage in so many beautiful symbolic actions which speak to the liturgical imagination even of the youngest.
- If you are not able to be present, please join us in prayer.
- Be sure to pray for those who will be joining the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. They are our Easter gift to the Church.
The beautiful liturgies of Holy Week are prepared with great care. Our staff and so many volunteers worked very hard to assure that everyone has a profound experience of the Mystery of our Salvation. Please join us so you may be refreshed and renewed in your faith.
Blessed Holy Week!