Dear friends, Peace and all Good!
Normally during the Sacred Three Days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, all of us are intensely busy with all the details and preparations needed. We are preparing choirs, arranging lilies, stripping the altar, and practicing with the servers and the Elect nervously preparing for the greatest moment of their lives. As we know this year, much of this “busyness” is gone as we celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection not in our church but from our “domestic church”—live-streamed on the parish web site and Facebook!
Yes, the coronavirus has struck a huge blow into our midst and our beautiful commemoration of the greatest liturgies of the Church year! But let us not let the fact that we cannot be physically present in church to celebrate this mystery drown out the meaning and reality of the great work of God in our midst. Although we are to “stay in place”, the Sacred Three Days do not merely take us back to the upper room or the path to Calvary or even to the empty tomb. While these facts are remembered in our hearts, these liturgies have a different purpose. They celebrate not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith and gifted with the Spirit of holiness.
Indeed, from our “home churches” this year, we celebrate both “cross” and “glory”—bound together. In fact, we begin the Sacred Three Days on Holy Thursday with the words of St. Paul to the Galatians 6:14: “But may I never boast of anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Cross and Glory! This is our theme for this sacred time.
This year we will celebrate this Cross and Glory in a quieter mood. That’s alright. Maybe because of this pandemic, this Holy Week gives us an even greater connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We see the suffering of so many people throughout the world. We feel it ourselves—just going to the grocery store is a major task—wearing a mask, standing in line far apart, not finding on the shelf what you were really wanting to cook tonight! Undoubtedly some of our company is seriously sick. Can we join our own pain, our sorrow—even our boredom, to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in our community, our country and in our world? And can we really celebrate the resurrection? Yes, we can! I think this year’s Easter Sunday will bring more meaning to us than ever. Christ once slain now lives. As Paul says: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Thanks be God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15)
Let us celebrate the victory of Jesus Christ! Happy Easter! The Lord give you peace!
Fr. Vince Mesi, OFM