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Father Muench Says...

Entering into Holy Week, Easter

April 13, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Lord has risen, Alleluia. I love Easter. I love all the events of Holy Week. Since I was in grade school, Holy Week was truly the holiest week of the year. Holy Week is my yearly journey walking with Jesus from the entrance into Jerusalem to the climbing of Calvary and the crucifixion. Ever since the time of Jesus, the events of Holy Week have led many to the same sadness that touched the apostles and the seeming failure of their hopes and expectations. We have found faith and hope in Christ’s resurrection.

Can you imagine the challenge of Holy Week for the apostles – the challenge of staying faithful. Jesus had taught them the vision of the kingdom. So many of Jesus’ parables speak of the kingdom. The very day Jesus called the apostles to his ministry, he challenged them to “follow me.” He promised them that they would no longer catch fish; they would catch men. They would have a message to share with all people – “God loves us and forgives us all.” Holy Week must have brought such sadness to the apostles. But you and I have been blessed! Jesus rose from the dead, and his ministry continued.

Jesus realized he was to suffer, that his life would be in danger. He told this to his apostles. The Gospels tell us that on one occasion when Jesus told his apostles that he was to suffer and die, St. Peter took the Lord aside and, we are told, that he rebuked him. Peter was upset. Jesus would disturb the others if talked about his life being in danger. Jesus, however, reacted boldly. He was so annoyed at Peter. “Get behind me, Satan,” he said. Wow, Peter just didn’t understand. This is how it is to be. Peter had so much to learn and so much to teach us. There was always to be a Good Friday. It brings us to the Lord’s resurrection.

So, now our liturgical Service on Good Friday has become a true celebration – a celebration of the Passion and Death of our Savior. It is not a Mass. It’s a service in sadness of the Lord’s sufferings for us. The service begins with the clergy prostrating themselves on the sanctuary floor in solemn prayer and sadness – remembering the sufferings of the Lord.

Then we listen to St. John’s description of the events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday – the Last Supper and the Way of the Cross and the crucifixion of our Lord. This is followed by a priest bringing a cross into the sanctuary in solemn procession. The people are invited forward to venerate this cross. For us all, this is our walk up Calvary Hill – one time to touch the cross of our Savior. We are all reminded of all that Jesus accepted for us; he truly demonstrated for us the great love God has for each one of us.

The old tradition was for everyone to remove their shoes as they walk to the sanctuary to venerate the cross. However, each year I notice a few who take a moment to remove their shoes as if to make this more meaningful. I think I should take my shoes off this year.

We are a resurrection people. We believe and know that in three days our suffering, crucified Lord rose again to new life. So, a very fitting close to our Good Friday Service is the reception of Holy Communion. On Good Friday Service is not a Mass, and so the Blessed Eucharist at this service is the Holy Eucharist that is consecrated at the Mass on Holy Thursday.

And then we wait. We mark a quiet Saturday until the Easter Vigil Mass, when celebrate the resurrection of the Lord again. “He is risen. He is truly risen.”

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