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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Dear Friends,

As we enter Holy Week, it will certainly be better than the Holy Week we experienced last year, but once again it will be a Holy Week out of the norm from the ones we are most accustomed to. Even given that, I repeat some of a column I have used now for a few years. I have explained some of the changes in the individual celebrations last week. In this week's column I just want to remind us what Holy Week should mean to us as Christians. The circumstances in which we celebrate may change, but the meaning does not.

With Palm Sunday, the Church begins the remembrance of Jesus' last days on earth. Of special importance are the days of the Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday/the Easter Vigil. On these days, the Church looks at the events which have become the center of our salvation.

The single Mass on Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper, remembers the institution of the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Church's life of grace. It is from the Eucharist that all of us draw our spiritual strength. It is from the Eucharist that we are fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Himself, as food for the journey. The Eucharist is the pledge of the Pascal Feast of Heaven. In addition, at this celebration of the Lord's Supper we remember the institution of the ministerial priesthood, a priesthood by which Jesus has chosen to continue His own priestly presence through the ages. Most especially, the ministerial priesthood is entrusted with the sacramental ministry through which grace (the divine life) is offered to the Church from the hands of Christ, Himself. Also at this Supper, we remember His example of charity and service, in the washing of the feet, a call which Christ speaks to the whole Church, also as a sign of His continued presence in the Church, so that the Church may be a sign of His presence in the world. We will live-stream the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday, April 1st, at 7:30PM. The usual Eucharistic procession and the Washing of the Feet will not be celebrated at this Mass. After the Communion Rite we will recite together St. Alphonse Liguori's Act of Spiritual Communion. The Easter Triduum (The Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Passion of the Lord and the Easter Vigil), when celebrated in its fullness is considered one liturgical celebration. Thus, after the Closing Prayer, there will be no final blessing or Recessional Hymn. Instead, all will withdraw in silence and the church will be locked.

On Good Friday, the Church remembers the death of her Lord. The principle worship service is not a Mass but is officially called the Celebration of the Lord's Passion. It has three principle parts (1) the Liturgy of the Word, especially the Passion, which recounts the Lord's suffering and death, (2) the Veneration of the Cross, in which each of us are invited to venerate the Cross as the instrument of our salvation, and (3) the Communion Service, in which Holy Communion, consecrated at the Mass of the Lord's Supper the previous evening, is distributed to the faithful. Good Friday is the most solemn day on the Church's calendar. Even without being able to come to church, as the numbers are limited by the Covid protocols, the faithful should make every effort to celebrate it as such. I have mentioned before that on this day, we could learn from our brothers and sisters of Jewish or Moslem adherence. It would be considered a rarity that they would not celebrate their "high holy days," Yom Kippur or Ramadan. Though the restrictions directed by the State will prevent many from attending in person (in the past, the church would be "packed,"), please take the time to honor the Lord's sacrifice for us by joining us for worship at 3 00PM for a live-stream of the Good Friday services.

The Easter Vigil is often called the "mother of all vigils," because it was an ancient custom of early Christians to stay up on the eve of Easter to wait, with the whole Church, for the Resurrection of the Lord. It was a time to remember, through the many readings, the history of salvation, culminating in that final act of God on our behalf, the Resurrection. In addition, all those who wished to join the community were baptized at this Vigil. It is a beautiful celebration of hope and joy. Sadly, those parts of the Vigil which could compromise Covid protocols (such as the blessing of the New Fire, the preparation and lighting of the Easter Candle, the Procession of the Light, the blessing of the congregation with Easter water at the renewal of baptismal promises) have been stricken from the rite. Because of the limitations of the Covid protocols, as with all the Holy Week services, you may not be able to register for the Vigil. If not, you are invited to join us by watching the live-streaming of this much-truncated Vigil. The live-streaming of the Easter Vigil Mass will begin at 8:00PM on Saturday, April 3rd.

The full schedule of these masses and services appears elsewhere in this bulletin.

Be well, be safe and God Bless,
Fr. Ron

PS. You may remember that in previous years there would be a Palm Sunday procession from Vet's Field through the streets of Ridgewood, concluding at the church for the 12:30 Mass. At the Mass, one of the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way would sing the Creed as a sign of their progress toward the renewal of their baptismal promises. Even though there is no procession this year, that singing of the Creed will still take place at the 12:30 Mass.

 

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