The days leading to Easter Sunday are called Holy Week for a reason. Catholic New York’s publication date coincides with Holy Thursday, right in the middle of Holy Week. It’s a time when we Catholics find ourselves observing timeless rituals, some continuing a well-practiced pattern decades long, while others, much younger, learn the rhythms of the liturgies and rites by accompanying their parents and family members. For some, this year may mark a return to the Church, no matter how long away or what the reason for the separation.
If your parish church seemed fuller on Palm Sunday, and again on Easter, that by any measure is a good thing. We hope you can reach out with a greeting to the young parents struggling to wrangle their children, or to the older person you haven’t met before. Tell them you are glad they came. It is a cause for rejoicing when the Church is enlivened by the participation of new people in our midst.
This Holy Week is a good time to get started, or to get re-started. Why exactly is that? Well, the liturgies are among the most meaningful and poignant of the entire Church year, as we hear and reflect on Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. You probably have a moment that really resonates deeply within you. For many Catholics, it arrives on Good Friday, as they ponder a Savior who had such an abiding love for us that He made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. The story, as we know, doesn’t end with death, as the Lord rose from the dead to bring us the promise of eternal life with Him in the house of His Father in heaven.
In this archdiocese, Holy Week offers other opportunities to experience the new life that Jesus offers. On the day after Palm Sunday, Reconciliation Monday made that sacrament available for hours at parish churches from Staten Island to Saugerties. Now a staple of the Lenten and Advent seasons, it gives Catholics here in the Archdiocese of New York, and in the neighboring dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, a common time to receive the graces of that sacrament.
At the Easter Vigil, our parish life is strengthened by the reception of new Catholics, and others who are coming into full communion with the Church, after a period of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They hold the promise of invigorating our worship with zeal and dedication.
As we witness Jesus’ journey during Holy Week, we can see He endured many trials, betrayals and sufferings. Our own lives are not without hardships, at times significant ones. He wants us to bring Him all the problems, troubles, disputes and obstacles that separate us from Him. We are not meant to bear our burdens alone. By pruning away the withered ends, new buds of holiness can sprout.
The liturgies of Holy Week and Easter are an ideal place to reflect and draw closer to Christ. They are a time to step forward in faith, toward Jesus, who willingly laid down His life in a perfect sacrifice that paves the way for eternal glory for those who follow Him.
It’s a message of renewal that we Catholics need to hear, whether we are confirmed in the faith, or seeking to follow Him for the first time.