Letter from the Pastor March 24

AN INVITATION TO HOLY WEEK

Anyone who reads my Facebook page or has had a conversation with me in the last week knows that I am quite enamored of our new Pope. Day by day, he impresses me more as he seeks to lead the whole Church, by word and action, to a closer walk with the Savior. As I prepare for Holy Week, one of the actions of his young Pontificate has been particularly meaningful for me as a priest who sometimes struggles with what the Church expects. Some may remember my homily from a couple of Holy Thursdays ago when I asked, reflecting on Holy Thursday as the “anniversary of the priesthood,” how we got from a priesthood of humble foot-washing demanded by Jesus even as he “establishes the model of Christian ministry,” to the imperial model of priesthood that grew up in the early medieval period and is still with us today.  It is a question that continually haunts me and which, on my best days, informs my practice of priesthood. (I know that on my worst days my model of priesthood comes from the ambitious mother of the sons of Zebedee: “Let my sons be your right-hand man and left-hand man as you establish your kingdom.”) Then news came on Thursday of this week that the Holy Father will forgo the elaborate setting of St. Peter’s Basilica and celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a juvenile prison where he will wash the feet of 12 young people who are detained there. As I read that announcement, my heart burst within my chest (in a good way :-)) Each day, Pope Francis is signaling that he will practice his Papal ministry differently than those who have held the office before.  He wants to lead us by example and practice to the way of the carpenter messiah. He wants to lead us to that Kingdom where the last will be first and the first will be last. Some have taken this as a criticism of his predecessors.  I do not believe that this is intended, nor do I believe one has to interpret these moves this way.  This is a new Pope with new ideas who is going to lead us in a different way.  And frankly, I LOVE IT! Part of what I am experiencing emotionally as I see him take the helm of the Barque of Peter is conviction, that is, challenge. Pope Francis makes me want to be a better priest.  He makes me want to recommit to the idea of the servant/leader that Jesus both preached and modeled. Even as I wash the feet of 12 of our parishioners on Thursday, I want it to be more than a nice reenactment. It must be the beginning of a renewed commitment to service, a new commitment to my call to serve.

This is my hope for all of us – not just this year – but every Holy Week – that as we remember the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord, we do so not as an act of memory, but as an act of participation – that we once again find ourselves at the table of the Lord’s last Passover, in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the San Hedrin and Pilate, on the Via Dolorosa, at the Foot of the Cross, at the tomb. As we relive the saving actions of Jesus Christ, may we recommit ourselves to the promise of our baptism, to hear and follow the Lord, to be His light in the world, to proclaim His Good News to the ends of the earth.

I hope to see many of you this weekend at the liturgies of Holy Week.  You can see the full schedule on the cover of the bulletin. In addition to the traditional liturgies, I’d like to make you aware of 3 other opportunities to serve the Lord during this Holy Week.
1) On Monday evening at 6:30, our beloved Bishop will celebrate the Chrism Mass (the Mass at which Holy Oils used in the Church are blessed) at the Cathedral. I will go to represent the Parish, and it would be great to see some of you there as well.
2) We will celebrate a Solemn Morning prayer with special Holy Week readings at 8:00 AM Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  If your schedule does not permit you to make it on weekdays, come on Saturday morning and get your Easter weekend off to a great start.
3) And finally, it takes a lot of work on Holy Saturday to transform the church from Lent to Easter.  I invite you to join us on Saturday morning beginning at 10:00 AM to decorate the church.

Take time to read the Passion Narrative from the Gospel this week.  Read it from all 4 Gospels.  Take time to reflect and pray.  Have a beautiful Holy Week.

Peace,
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