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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

"As we enter Holy Week, it will certainly be better than the Holy Week we experienced last year." That was the sentence with which I began my column for Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021, last year. I could repeat it again for this year but would have to add-"and much more like the last Palm Sunday of 2019, before the pandemic, and the years before that." In those years before the pandemic, I repeated my Palm Sunday column quite frequently because it's easy to forget why we celebrate Holy Week the way we do and the column serves as a reminder and teaching tool about the importance of what happens this week. As happens so often, the schools are closed this week and the challenge is that many will forget that for all of us who call ourselves Christians, this is the holiest week on the calendar. And I hope for those who are away, that they may, in some way, remember what this week means. But for those of us who are around, I encourage everyone to see the significance of these days and observe them accordingly.

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. On Monday evening, the priests of the Archdiocese will gather around their Bishop and renew the promises of service to the people of God that they made at their ordination. On Thursday, during this Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, your priests will repeat that promise in front of the whole community gathered as Mount Carmel. Pray for us, that we may always remain faithful to that promise. Also at this Supper, we remember the Lord's 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. Honoring the Sacrament of Christ's own Body and Blood, the Holy Thursday celebration concludes with the Eucharistic Procession. Both the Eucharistic Procession and the Washing of the Feet have not been celebrated since 2019. The church will remain open for private prayer and adoration until midnight on Holy Thursday evening.

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. The faithful should make every effort to celebrate it as such. I have mentioned before that in this one 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. And yet, we Catholics have become so cavalier about the way we commemorate Good Friday, our high holy day. We think nothing of scheduling ball games and practices (coaches, please note) or going to work. I wonder how many will spend Good Friday on a beach somewhere? What kind of a message are we giving to our children and our world? Please try to reverse that, even if it means taking a personal day from work, to witness to your co-workers and your family and your neighbors that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross means something to you. And if you take off, honor the day by worshipping with us and by leaving household chores, shopping, the lawn and garden, etc., to another day.

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. Join us, for the first time in three years, for the special Vigil Mass that begins at 8:00PM Saturday evening. At the Vigil those who are to be baptized into the Christian faith and the Catholic Church and with whom we have shared a journey these weeks of Lent, especially if you attended the weekly 11:00 Mass, will join our Eucharistic community for the first time. This year, Gabriela Blacido will join this local Catholic community when she is baptized. It would be a wonderful thing if, as a parish, a large part of our community were there to welcome her. I know Mass will take a little longer than usual, but when you think of the fact that Gabriela has now found Christ, what a wonderful sign to her that our community truly appreciates this decision for the faith. And what a continuing encouragement to us to rekindle the faith that brought Gabriela to this moment. Please come. You might be inspired to speak an invitation to the faith to someone who is searching for God in their lives.

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

In the Gospel read at all but the 11:00 Mass last Sunday, when Jesus starts writing on the ground, the elders slink away, one by one. Whatever he was writing, and Scripture doesn't tell us, when combined with his words, "whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone, "caused all in the crowd to examine themselves, to look into their own hearts and to see their own sins. When they did, they left. Jesus invites each of us to do the same, to look into our own hearts, to see our sins and to seek forgiveness. Confessions will be heard by four priests on Saturday, 4/9, from 1:00-2:00PM and again on Wednesday, 4/13, by four priests, from 7:00-9:00PM. No confessions will be heard after Wednesday evening and there will be no confessions Monday evening because of the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.

May Holy Week be, for each one of us a time of renewal in faith, deepening in hope and growth in charity by the way we walk with the Lord through these saving mysteries.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron


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