Holy Week Reflection

By Mike Ingram, Graduate Assistant, Institute for Pastoral Initiatives

How often have we cried out asking God this question, "My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?" from the lips of the crucified Christ according to Matthew’s Gospel we hear Jesus quoting Psalm 22. But let us reflect a moment how often have we asked this of God? Is it OK that we are asking this of God? What does this say about our relationship with God? While I find these questions to be of a particular importance, I also feel that there may be a more important follow-up question to ask. How many times has God asked “My children, my children, why have you abandoned me?’" Are there moments in life when we have completely abandoned God?

Yesterday marked the start of Holy Week. With a name like Holy Week, it would seem that it goes without saying that it is an important week. However I would like to emphasize the importance of this week as far too often we jump right to Easter. However, if we do that we miss out on the beauty of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we miss out on an opportunity to journey with Christ to the Cross.

Thursday masses around the world will include the presiding priest washing the feet of his congregation (Pope Francis last year officially stated that women are to be included in this practice). Several parishes will do this differently than others. Some will have 12 men (and only men) having their feet washed, others will have 12 adults (and only adults, men, and women), and still others will have 12 parishioners (men, women, adults and children/young adults), or in a rare experience the parish will have communal foot washing where anyone is welcome to come and have their feet washed, and even wash the feet of others. If you are given the opportunity to participate please do (it is worth it!). Even if you are unable to participate actively in this practice, attend the service and I invite you to think of whose feet you would be willing to wash.

On Friday there are a couple of differing options for services as well. Good Friday is the one day of the year where a mass is not celebrated. By this, I mean that on Good Friday the Eucharist used at any service was consecrated on Thursday night. While certain services will offer an opportunity to partake in the Eucharist do not be surprised if your Parish does a passion service or stations of the cross instead. Most places will also have an opportunity for the veneration of the cross. Again I strongly encourage you to participate in this (it is worth it!). With most people having to work, it is understandable if you cannot make it to your typical service or that life gets in the way and you simply can't make it anywhere. If this is the case I invite you to listen to the link below and reflect on your own on the beauty of the cross.

Saturday is your opportunity to partake in the Easter Vigil. Yes, this means you went to church three days in a row, and yes, the vigil is typically 2.5-3 hours (it is worth it!). At this mass, the liturgy of the word takes us through the entirety of salvation history. It is also at this mass where we welcome the newly baptized and confirmed into the church (do you know how many people in your parish are joining the Catholic community you call home?).

I understand that this sounds like a lot of mass, a lot of church, perhaps even a waste of time and maybe it is. However when I am asked what it is every year that keeps me where I am when it comes be being Catholic or not, no matter how much I disagree with some of my fellow Catholics or struggle with some Church teachings, I find the beauty and truth of my faith again this week.

If you have never participated in the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil) let this year be the first time you do so. If you have never participated let this be the first year that you journey towards the resurrection with him and with all those around you. Let the beauty of the faith fill your Holy Week, and fill your life.

Edited by Barb Miller and Ben Swick

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