Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for April 9, 2006

The austerities and hardships of Lent are nearly through; Holy Week has at last arrived with the great songs of “Hosanna” for our Lord as He makes His final entry into Jerusalem. The moving proclamation of the Passion of the Lord spiritually prepares us for this final week of Lent, foreshadowing the great events of our salvation and allowing us to enter into the depths of our Lord’s suffering and death.

Every day of Holy Week offers a new opportunity to open our hearts and turn more completely to Christ. The Sacred Liturgy recalls, and in a certain manner, makes present the central mysteries of our Faith. As we prepare to enter the sacred Triduum (Latin for “Three Days”), the Church centers our gaze on Christ and His Sacrifice, teaching us some deeper truth each day. Many of us participated in the Holy Week Festival that recalled the importance and centrality of the events of Holy Week in our lives. Each of us should renew our effort to participate in the Liturgies of Holy Week, particularly the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and rejoicing with the Church at the Easter Vigil.

After Palm Sunday, Holy Week can seem fairly quiet; the palms adorn the crucifixes and we wait in silence for the great events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The readings from the Mass on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, however, prepare us for these days. Monday’s Gospel (John 12:1-11) recalls the anointing of Christ’s feet by Lazarus’ sister, Mary, in preparation for His death; Tuesday (John 13:21-33, 36-38) foretells Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial; and Wednesday (sometimes known as “Spy Wednesday”; Matthew 26:14-25) finishes telling the sad story of Judas’ treachery. By reading these Gospels at the family meal during Holy Week, we can truly begin to prepare our hearts for the solemn days ahead. On Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 pm, we will also be celebrating the Sacrament of Penance at St. John Neumann. Holy week is the perfect time to ask forgiveness for our sins, and to see our sins and failures in light of Christ’s victory on the Cross.

The Chrism Mass on the morning of Holy Thursday recalls the joyful institution of the priesthood by our Lord on the night He was betrayed. There is no parish Mass on Thursday morning; instead the priests gather with their bishop in the Cathedral to renew their vows of priestly service and to witness the blessing of the Holy Oils to be used throughout the year: the Oil of Catechumens (Baptism), the Oil of the Sick (Anointing), and the Sacred Chrism (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders).

The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper was often called “Maundy Thursday” from the words “Mandatum novum,” or the “New Commandment” of love and service that Christ gave to His Church in the washing of the Apostles’ feet. Several volunteers have their feet washed by the priests in imitation of Christ’s service. Intimately connected with the institution of the priesthood is the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which we joyfully celebrate at this Mass as well. Christ gives the Church, through the ministerial priesthood, the gift of Himself, lasting until He returns in glory: His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, present under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. How blessed we are to share this great and noble Sacrament of His Love!

We then move to the “Altar of Repose,” where we adore Christ and prepare for the celebration of His Passion on Good Friday. The somber Liturgy of the Passion – not a Mass, for no Masses are celebrated on this day on which the Church recalls the death of Her Lord and Founder – calls to mind Christ’s incredible love, and His Sacrifice that sets us free from sin. We hear the Passion proclaimed; we pray for the entire world; we venerate the cross; and then we receive Holy Communion.

As we watch and wait in the silence of Holy Saturday, our hearts become one with the Mother of God, who silently shared in her Son’s agony and death. May the sorrow of Christ’s Passion and Death pierce our hearts, that we might die to sin with Christ, in order to live anew with Him on Easter Sunday: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).