March 27, 2013
By Father William Muench
Another Holy Week – another opportunity for each of us to walk with Jesus through the liturgical triduum of our salvation.
I love the ceremonies of Holy Week; for me it is a week of rededication to my priesthood. On Holy Thursday, during the Mass, I find it important to stand before the people of the parish to renew the promises asked of me as a priest. These are the same promises that all of us priests make at the yearly Chrism Mass. It is a very special moment for me.
On Good Friday, I am allowed to venerate the cross of Jesus and also to receive the Blessed Eucharist. In this way I am truly united with my crucified Savior. Then, to celebrate Easter – to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection – my resurrection to new life – a resurrection that I begin to experience even now.
This year Holy Week is even more special as we rejoice in the beginning of the Papacy of our new Pope, Pope Francis. During Holy Week, the Church rededicates itself to the call of Jesus to watch over and protect the poor and needy. This call is re-echoed by Pope Francis.
One of the first stories that I heard after Pope Francis’ election concerned the encouragement he received at the conclave. Usually, we never hear anything about the conversations that the Cardinals have among themselves during the conclave. However, Pope Francis did mention that after he was elected, the Cardinal sitting next to him, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sao Paulo, hugged him and said, “Remember the poor.”
I did get up early and watched some of Pope Francis’ Inaugural Mass and heard his homily. As you may remember the Mass was on the Feast of St. Joseph. The Pope spoke of St. Joseph during his homily; he spoke of St. Joseph as a Protector, the Protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus. He thought of Joseph as a protector to imitate – for himself and for all of us. When the Gospels speak of St. Joseph, it is always about his watching over and protecting Mary and Jesus. Pope Francis then spoke of his own responsibility as the Bishop of Rome to be a protector. He indicated that this call to protect also applies to all people of faith. He saw himself as a Protector of Jesus and the Blessed Mother as a teacher, a priest, and now as Pope when what he teaches and says is closely watched by many.
Each of us, especially those who teach and guide others in faith, are also protectors of Jesus and the Blessed Mother.
Pope Francis then went on to speak of himself as a protector of the whole of creation. Ecology is important to him and he challenges all of us, Catholics and all others, to be protectors of creation.
He went on to see himself as a protector of others, of all others – each and every person – but especially the poorest among us. I know that Pope Francis will continue to lead our Church as a Pope dedicated to the needs of the poor. From the very start of his Papacy the care of the poor has been important to him.
Finally, he calls upon all of us to protect ourselves – we must protect with love all that God has given us. I see this as a call to strengthen our faith, to live that faith so as to protect ourselves from all that would keep us from our God, from living good lives. In that way, in the words of Pope Francis, “the star of hope will shine brightly” though our lives and in all that we do.