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Father Muench Says...

Holy Week has had a profound impact

April 17, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

A Holy Week – Lent ends as the Catholic Church puts together in one week, the Holy Week, a celebration of our salvation. Our Holy Week is a remembrance of all that our Savior experienced – his entrance into Jerusalem, the Last Supper with his apostles, his Passion and Death on the Cross on Good Friday and the quiet of Holy Saturday, all of which leads us to Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.

As I prepare myself to celebrate Holy Week this year, I remember well the many things that happened during Holy Week when I was much younger. I remember those early years of my life when I served as a young altar server. I remember that I never missed any of the Masses and services of Holy Week. They were very special. I didn’t want to miss a one. I just thought of one of the things that we liked to do as kids: follow the tradition of the Catholic Church to visit seven other churches on Holy Thursday. I remember well that we had a gang that wandered around the north side of Syracuse visiting churches.

Then I remember the celebration of Holy Week while I was in St. Mary’ Seminary. We, seminarians, celebrated Holy Week at the seminary. The Masses and services were all so carefully planned, and the music was always so good. I especially remember the year that I was a deacon and was more involved in the ceremonies of Holy Week at the seminary.

Then, there were all the many years when I was a priest, celebrating Holy Week in the various parishes where I was assigned. I remember working carefully to prepare the homilies for the Masses and services. I remember preparing the altar servers for Holy Thursday, for Good Friday, for the Easter Vigil. The practices were always fun, because we ended each practice with a pizza party.

I must add, I also remember some mishaps as well as mistakes during the Holy Week services. Some were actually a bit humorous. There is always something silly that happens with the incense. Fortunately, no one gets hurt. However, I do remember the time at St. Patrick’s Church in Brasher Falls when a candle fell over and ignited a small fire. Fortunately, there was a volunteer fireman in the front pew. He took care of the fire quickly. I do remember the time at St. Mary’s, Massena, when we, priests and the servers, were preparing to start the Easter Vigil Service when somebody (I suspect it was me) dropped and broke the new Paschal candle. Fortunately, last year’s candle was still usable.

Oh, yes, I must tell you about the year I was at the Newman Center at Plattsburgh State. One of the fraternities accepted the responsibility to prepare and read the dialogue in the Gospel of the Passion of Jesus at the parish Good Friday Service. I was rather impressed by those guys. I still remember how great that night was.

One more remembrance: I fondly remember many Easter Vigils over the years during which several adults were baptized and welcomed into the Catholic Church. Those were very special, very happy Easter Vigils for me. I remember each of those special people that I baptized and confirmed at those Easter Vigils.

So, I write to you today to encourage you to find the time to become involved in Holy Week. Each Mass and service is a powerful celebration to draw ever closer to the Lord. This Holy Week is our opportunity to allow Jesus more completely into our lives.

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