Our High Holy Days

Once again, we come to Holy Week, and we are reminded that these are our “High Holy Days.” These are the days in which we recall the life-giving events of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Parishes are preparing their churches and chapels, lectors are getting ready to proclaim well the Word of God, servers are learning the rituals of the Sacred Triduum (and priests and deacons are trying to remember them again, having not had to perform them since last year!).

It is a time of stripping the altars and making the sanctuary look bare for Good Friday in commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, and then cleaning again, building up again, with candles and flowers, for the great Easter Vigil.

We invite you to participate fully in Holy Week. Come to church early on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion for the blessing and procession of the palms. On Monday, stop by any church in our Diocese of Brooklyn, or in the Archdiocese of New York, or the Diocese of Rockville Centre, to receive the healing, cleansing and strength that can only come from the Savior Christ in the sacrament of penance. Every church is open and ready with a priest who wishes to hear your confession.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, perhaps we can read the Sacred Scriptures for these days, namely the betrayal of Christ by Judas. The readings can be found at www.usccb.org/bible/readings. We can reflect on how we have hurt our relationships with others, God and ourselves, and then – with, through and in Jesus, who is God’s mercy – we can begin again.

Likewise, on Tuesday of Holy Week, as our priests and bishops celebrate the Chrism Mass, we can pray for the priests who have changed our lives, bringing us closer to God, and also pray for happy, healthy, holy vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese of Brooklyn.

For the Sacred Triduum, we can make every effort to attend the liturgies in our parishes. On Thursday, at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we can watch and wait with the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, mirroring what He did for love of us in the Garden of Gethsemane. On Good Friday, in addition to the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and the veneration of the cross, perhaps we can pray the Stations of the Cross. A prayerful modern one from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI can be found here: www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2005/documents/ns_lit_doc_20050325_via-crucis_en.html.

On Holy Saturday morning, perhaps we could take the food we will eat on Easter to be blessed, as many of our parishes offer this traditional blessing, and later participate in the Easter Vigil.

Having fully taken part in these Holy Week preparations, when Easter Sunday arrives, we will be ready to say “Alleluia!”

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