Now it begins… Now it all Begins: Holy Week
Through time He invites us to participate in His ongoing redemptive plan, through His Son Jesus Christ who has been raised, by living in the full communion of His Church. That plan will in its final fulfillment recreate the entire cosmos in Christ.
Time is the road along which this loving plan of redemption and re-creation proceeds. We who have been baptized into Christ are invited to co-operate in this Divine Plan. The Christian understanding of time as having a redemptive purpose is why Catholic Christians mark time by the great events of the faith in our Church calendar. At the very epicenter of that Calendar is the great Three days we will celebrate this Holy Week, the “Triduum” of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Resurrection of the Lord. As we live the liturgical calendar we can experience the ever-deepening call to conversion and find the deeper mystery and meaning of life by responding. Christians believe in a linear timeline in history. There is a beginning and an end, a fulfillment which is a new beginning. Time is heading somewhere. That is as true of the history of the world as it is our own personal histories. Christians mark time by the great event which forever redeemed it, the saving Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Good Liturgy is not a re-enactment of something that happened over 2000 years ago but an actual participation in the events themselves, by faith. They are outside of time and made present in our Liturgical celebrations and in our reception of the Sacraments. Every Liturgy is an invitation to enter into the sacrifice of Calvary which occurred once and for all. That one Sacrifice is re-presented at every Altar in every Holy Mass. Our Holy Week invites us to participate in the timeless Paschal Mystery, the saving life, suffering, passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over the course of this Holy Week we attend the Last Supper and receive the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We enter into the deep meaning of the Holy priesthood and are invited to pour ourselves out like the water in the basins used to wash feet on Holy Thursday. We are asked with the disciples in the Gospel accounts we hear proclaimed to watch with the Lord and to enter with him into his anguish by imitating His Holy surrender in his Sacred Humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Through the stark and solemn Liturgy of the Friday we call “Good”, we stand at the Altar of the Cross where heaven is rejoined to earth and earth to heaven, along with the Mother of the Lord. We enter into the moment that forever changed - and still changes – all human History, the great self gift of the Son of God who did for us what we could never do for ourselves by in the words of the ancient Exultet, “trampling on death by death”. We wait at the tomb and witness the Glory of the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation.
The Bishops of the United States just released the great news that over 150,000 people will be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. Contrary to the naysayers, the Catholic Church is not asleep; rather she is coming to new life. At the Great Easter Vigil we will be invited to join the new members of the Body of Christ and affirm once again that we believe what we profess in that great Creed, the symbol of our ancient and ever new faith. We can be Catholic, as I like to say, "by choice", by exercising our human freedom and choosing what is true. The Liturgical year in the words of Monsignor Peter Elliott “… transforms our time into a sacrament of eternity.”
Let us enter fully into this Great and Holy Week by reaching out to receive all of the graces offered to us in these wonderful Holy Week Liturgies. The 150,000 new Catholics who join us understand something that perhaps many of us may have forgotten. Liturgy is not mere external compliance with some "custom" or tradition. It is an invitation of the Holy Spirit into the Mystery of the Christian faith. “Now it begins… now it all begins” said Zerah in the film Jesus of Nazareth. What begins? Life itself begins anew and so can we, once again. The Christian proclamation is that every man, woman and child on the face of the earth can be made new in and through Jesus Christ. We can all begin again and again and again and again and again.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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