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Father Muench Says...

Entering Holy Week


April 5, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Each time we, Catholics, begin to pray, we make the Sign of the Cross. We do this to remind ourselves of Jesus – the Jesus who suffered and died for us on the cross. Jesus came to our world to live among us and to teach us. Each time we go to prayer, we remember even more that Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross.

I brought this up today because we are coming to Holy Week, the holiest week of the year. During our Holy Week, we celebrate the events of our salvation. We celebrate the sufferings of Our Lord – his crucifixion – and complete the week with Easter, as we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. Our Holy Week services immerse us all in the Lord’s Passion and death. In this way, we also celebrate the Lord’s great love for us.

As we walk with Jesus through these events of Holy Week each year, Jesus calls us to be a people who bring peace to our world. The Lord suffered and died for us and demonstrated for us the great love that God has for us and the Lord’s call to discover true happiness with our Savior. Every time we participate in the celebration of Mass, we have the opportunity to offer our gratitude to Our Lord Jesus. Jesus loved each of us. He suffered for us all in love. That is why Holy Week is all about gratitude. We remember all the Lord accepted for us.

Today I want to take this time with you to review the time of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, our Sunday Mass begins with a procession. We walk with Jesus; we escort him into Jerusalem for all the challenges of the week. During this Mass, we will read again the story of the Lord’s Passion and death, a preparation for our celebration of the events of Holy Week as we remember the Lord’s great love for us.

On Holy Thursday, we join Jesus and the apostles as we remember that very special Last Supper. In this special Mass, we will celebrate that time when Jesus instituted the precious Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In addition, we believe that at this Last Supper Jesus ordained his first priests. At Holy Thursday Mass, we add the impressive ceremony, the washing of the feet. Each pastor washes the feet of some of his parishioners to demonstrate to all his care and concern for his people in imitation of Our Lord Jesus.

The Holy Thursday Mass closes with a Eucharistic procession. We walk again in praise of Our and Savior truly present in this Sacrament. Our procession is a sign of our readiness to live in the life of the Eucharist. We walk in praise of Our Lord and God.

On Good Friday, we celebrate in a special way the crucifixion of Jesus. We walk with Jesus along the “via dolorosa.” We stand with Mary at the foot of the Lord’s cross. In honor the cross of Christ as we venerate a cross. This ceremony is a time for gratitude and calls upon us to be in every way a people of peace. Each time I approach Calvary, I am so deeply impressed in all that Jesus accepted for me. I pray each Good Friday that our crucified Savior will help us all to remove violence from our world.

Then we celebrate the Easter Vigil on the eve of Sunday, a powerful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection to new life. Easter is a time for us to renew the gift of our Baptism, as we rededicate ourselves to the following of Our Lord Jesus. We want this new life. At this Easter Vigil, many are welcomed into our Church and receive baptism. These new Catholics bring new life and spirit to our Church. It is a time for rejoicing.

Holy Week is a time for joy and happiness. It is a time for walking with Jesus who loved us so much, a time for love and gratitude. We are made new so that we can demonstrate to our world our love for the Lord who lived and died and was resurrected for us.

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