Pastor's Corner 031713

posted Mar 13, 2013, 10:41 AM by Music Director

Lent is drawing to a close.  How has the journey been for you this year?  Today we embark on the holiest week of the Christian year, which is why it is called “Holy Week.” I’d like to take a closer look at the rich and beautiful celebrations of this glorious week, but with limited space I’ll do this over two weeks.  This week, let’s take a look at the first part of Holy Week.

On Passion (“Palm”) Sunday, we recall Jesus’ triumphal entry into the holy city of Jerusalem.  We join the throngs of its citizens waving palm branches in the ancient Semitic gesture of welcome for a hero.  We shout “Hosanna,” the Hebrew greeting (“Pray, save us”) for one who is a savior.  But in the Gospel, we remember how quickly those cries of joy turned to shouts of accusation and demand for Jesus’ crucifixion.  This is why the official name of this day isn’t “Palm Sunday” but “Passion Sunday.”  Since it isn’t possible for many people to attend the Good Friday service, the Church proclaims the passion of Christ on the last Sunday of Lent, the Sunday before Easter. 

In the days of the Tridentine (Latin) Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council, there actually were two Passion Sundays.  What we today call the Fifth Sunday of Lent was called the “First Sunday of the Lord’s Passion” or simply “Passion Sunday.”  The Gospel assigned that day was taken from John 8:46-59, in which Jesus assails the Scribes and Pharisees in the Temple courtyard.  They take up rocks to stone Him, but Jesus flees and “hid Himself.”  Statues and crucifixes were covered in imitation of Jesus’ hiding, and remained covered until the Easter Vigil.  Many churches continue to observe this custom.  Others follow the contemporary rubric of covering them after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. 

Each year on the Tuesday of Holy Week, our diocese celebrates the Chrism Mass, where the clergy renew their commitment to the people of God in the sacrament of Holy Orders; and the holy oils are blessed by the Bishop and are distributed to the faithful to bring home to their parishes. These oils are used to prepare those to be baptized (Oil of Catechumens); in Baptism itself, in Confirmation, the consecration of new church buildings and altars, and the Ordination of priests and bishops (Sacred Chrism); and to bless and strengthen the sick and the dying (Oil of the Sick).  “Chrism” comes from the Greek “Christos” which means “the anointed.”  It is why we call Jesus, “the Christ,” as He was anointed (i.e. chosen by God) to bring salvation to the world.

Next week, we’ll look at the second half of Holy Week, the sacred Triduum and Easter.  Hopefully by then, white smoke will have appeared over the Sistine Chapel and the joyful proclamation, “Habemus papam!” (“We have a Pope!”) will have rung out over St. Peter’s Square!  God bless you!


In His Love,

Fr. Mike