Steve Dudenhoefer, our lay-missioner from our mission in Guatemala, has asked me to thank you, in advance, for your kind and generous response to his appeal. You help make his work of feeding the students at the Father Tom Moran School easier.
Holy Week, for Christians, is the most sacred time of year. It’s our time to reflect on what the “good news” of the Gospel really means. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we enter into the most sacred time of the year for a Christian. The joy of Christian life begins at Christmas, but it comes to fruition on the other side of Calvary. No matter how intelligent, talented or privileged we think we might be, none of us can avoid the sufferings that go with the fabric of daily life. What we do with those sufferings determines the course of our lives. We can allow them to break us, or to open us to become something greater than our old selves.
St. John Paul II once described the Bible as “God’s great book about suffering.” He meant that Scripture is the story of God’s willingness to suffer for humanity, and his call to each of us to join our own struggles to his in healing the evil and pain in the world. Real joy, enduring joy – as Pope Francis says so powerfully in “The Gospel of Joy” – comes from our solidarity with others.
It would have made no sense for Christ to come in the guise of human glory; it only would have confused people and drawn them to Him for all the wrong reasons. It is precisely in His poverty and in His passion that God’s humility shines forth in its greatest glory. The cross is the way Jesus accomplishes our redemption. Only by sharing that experience with him, can we rise with Him on Easter. In other words, there’s no resurrection without the crucifixion.
In offering God the personal sorrows and sufferings which each of us daily face, and in working to ease the sorrows and suffering of others, we join ourselves to Jesus. We share in his sacrifice for the world, but we also share in the reward, for he draws us with him out of death into new life on Easter. Therefore, when we speak about the Gospel message of joy and hope, this is what we mean: the joy of restored life; and our confidence that even in dying, we will live forever in the Lord.
During the season of Lent, we have been called through deeper prayer, personal acts of penance, doing good for others, and making sacrifices, to a greater awareness of our weakened nature and of our dependence upon God in every moment of our lives. The opportunity to develop a better spirituality is by acknowledging our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness.
Of course, the best way of doing this is through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Though we’ve had our annual Lenten Penance Service with Confessions last Thursday, there is still time to come to our merciful Lord and confess your sins before we celebrate the Feast of Easter. Please consult your parish Easter schedule (mailed to you with your envelopes) for the entire program of services during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. In this way you will have at hand the entire list (and save us the annual headache of answering many, many phone calls every year at this time to just inquire about the schedule for Easter Sunday).
As we begin the Sacred Triduum – the beautiful, moving sacramental celebrations of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil – please ask God to grant us all the gift of encountering Jesus Christ as Savior . . . in the Eucharist, at the cross and beyond the empty tomb. Then, and only then, can we truly benefit from God’s loving mercy upon his believers and all who honestly ask Him for it.
May you and your loved ones have the choicest of blessings this Easter!