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This weekend, The Basilica was planning to hold our annual St. Vincent de Paul pledge drive. Once a year, The Basilica invites our community to learn about, pledge financial support, and become part of the important work of our St. Vincent de Paul ministry. We had brochures created, letters written, stories gathered, speakers identified, volunteers signed up. We were ready!
Yet, today we are being challenged to reconsider what it means to “be ready.” A new reality asks; how are we identifying, preparing, and responding to the unique needs of this day?
As we learn how to live with COVID-19, and as we seek to make decisions respecting and upholding the common good, new questions arise—new paradigms are developed—new fears are unmasked—new hopes are uncovered—and new responses are called for.
The core of our Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry are relationships. Its mission is “To develop community by providing services to our guests and by working to help all fulfill their potential.” In practice, we know all benefit and experience transformation through these relationships: staff, volunteers, and those we serve. All are touched and changed in our work.
I see and hear the harsh realities of life under COVID-19 through my work at The Basilica. People are suffering. Those who were most vulnerable are more isolated and in greater need than before. Programs that serve have been suspended. People who felt secure are now insecure. The health risks are real, especially for the most vulnerable. The economics of the pandemic are unfathomable—and hitting many people hard today.
As we walk through Lent 2020, the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on Good Friday has become my guiding prayer. Jesus went with some of his disciples to pray. He was distressed and troubled. In his sorrow, he separated himself and fell to the ground. Three times he prayed that his burden would be removed. Yet, he yielded to the will of his Father. He grieved and struggled, and ultimately accepted what he had to do. We know how this story ends—with resurrection and the promise of new life. Yet it was a hard and painful journey.
To get ready, Jesus went away to pray. He brought along companions. He was honest about his fears and courageous in his actions. Ultimately, he stood up and modeled a commitment to forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice and justice.
As we live into the unimaginable reality of live-streamed Masses and closed-down cities, we are invited to reflect deeply on how we get ready. We are challenged to let go of preconceived needs and expectations, and surrender parts of our life that sustained us in the past.
This Lent, as we walk through this pandemic together, we are challenged to find new ways to nurture and build relationships. We are inspired by the courage of first responders, the selflessness of grocery store workers, and the goodness of people who reach out “virtually” to check in and support another. Let us not forget those suffering around us. Though often invisible, we need one another.
Find Volunteer Opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic mary.org/volunteer.
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!