“I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” (Lk 12:50).
As we enter into Holy Week, these words of our Lord come to mind, expressing as they do the fervent desire and zeal He held within His Sacred Heart to enter upon the laborious work of His suffering and death for our redemption. It’s not possible to fathom the measure of that love for us ingrates and seemingly worthless creatures. God did not spare His own Son to ransom a slave. What father would sacrifice the
life of his own child to win a useless, degenerate and unappreciative person in exchange? Well can we sympathize with St. Peter when he attempted to thwart our Lord’s plan to redeem mankind through the Passion. But Christ was not to be deterred by any miscomprehension of His intentions or a misguided loyalty. “We will go up to Jerusalem,” He said. And Thomas, in excessu mentis (the Latin expression from Ps 30:25 for being ‘out of one’s mind’ is so expressive) said, “Let us go and die together with Him!” The apostles would indeed ‘drink the cup’ of suffering with Christ, but at a later time, and Saint Peter himself would be bound and carried off to die for Him. For the moment, however, it was the time for Christ to fulfill His great desire. The members of His Church would have to await their own time to die with Him.
This is our time to die (in a manner of speaking) with the Lord. Lent–for those who have taken it upon themselves–has been in preparation for this very moment. We should not now be deterred, not turn back. We have been permitted to accompany Christ in this most important week. A favorite hymn from childhood, “O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile,” beckons us to enter this week bravely and Our Lady and with full abandon to accompany our Lord in His final journey to Jerusalem.
Each year I make an appeal for all of you to attend the Holy Week services of Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday afternoon and Holy Saturday night. None of these–apart from Easter day itself–is obligatory. But what’s the point of missing, voluntarily, these events by which you were bought and paid for? Here’s then a measure to measure your love for Christ. Moreover, I ask not only that you come to the church and be present on those days, but that you do so with an eager and alert mind, fully cognizant of what those days mean, following along with our Lord with a
compassionate heart. In this way you will be with Him bodily as well as mentally, all for love of Him and for the love of your own souls. Kindly see and keep the inserted page which gives the schedule of services and confessions for the week. This will
relieve some of the stress of answering callers to the rectory during this very busy week. Note carefully that confessions will not be heard on Easter day. It is your duty to come to confession, however. Do not omit this most important obligation. You need Holy Week. It’s an annual rejuvenation of your spiritual lives. It’s a purifying bath of your defilements, a recalibration of your wills, an adornment of heavenly graces for you.
P.S. Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence.
P.P.S. I thank the Romanos for hosting, preparing, serving (and cleaning up) after the annual St. Joseph Day meal held last Sunday. It’s a labor of love, as they say, for the great Saint and for you, our parishioners. Many thanks!