Today is the first day of Holy Week in the Catholic Church and other Christian churches as well. Today at Mass they Passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be read. We will remember how he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on this day on a donkey colt. We will hear how the crowd spread palm fronds and shouted “Hosanna.” The readings will recount the last supper the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, imprisonment and eventual crucifixion of the Jesus. We will genuflect as the moment of his death is read. We will rise again like he did on the third day. We will remember all of this as we do each year. But will we connect the events of two thousand years ago with the events of today?
Will we connect the passion and death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, the Asian Americans in Atlanta, the innocents in the Colorado supermarket? Will we think of the passion and suffering of the those LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters? Will we connect the passion and death of Christ with the outrage on our southern border? Will we ask why women are not priests? Will we see the passion, destruction and death of our mother earth? Is Holy Week just an event where we think of the itinerant Palestinian carpenter who came to show us how to live?
Will we continue to trivialize the life of the Christ who came not merely to die on a tree so that two thousand years later we could sprinkle water on our heads and claim to be saved by his name while we openly persecute those created in his image? In a couple of weeks our granddaughter Fiona Katherine will be baptized. I hope that she will be filled with the Holy Spirit on that day as I’m sure she already is. I hope that the Holy Spirit will fill her heart with a hunger for righteousness for the goodness of creation and the welfare of her fellow humans. I hope that she will hunger and thirst for a rightful place for women in our world.
The passion of Christ is more than remembering the events that took place in Jerusalem two thousand years ago for me. Peace.
This year is very different from any in my memory. For most of the last twenty years I have celebrated the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper at Mount Irenaeus along with several dozen or more people who came for dinner and stayed for the liturgy. However different tonight’s liturgy was, it is still one of my favorites of the church year. Fr. Peter Schneible, OFM and Dr. Paula Scraba, OFS provided us with the best remote liturgy we could expect during this unusual time of quarantine. I appreciated how the liturgy ended with Tantum Ergo Sacramentum which announces the period of veneration of the Eucharist that follows the Eucharistic celebration on this special night of the church year. Thank you to University Ministries at St. Bonaventure for providing a live stream of the liturgy tonight. You can watch the entire liturgy on their YouTube channel.
The last couple of years I have been privileged to spend the Triduum at Mt. Irenaeus living in community with the Friars and other guests as we celebrated the liturgy together. This year that will not be possible and that’s weighed on me. I will miss that very much. This morning I got an email message from Fr. Dan Riley, OFM who is the founder of the Franciscan Mountain Retreat and a good friend. Like everyone else Dan’s concern is for those who are working on the front lines, for those suffering, dying, losing loved ones and everything else that goes with this. This week is celebration of the passion like none in recent memory. I have spent more time praying this month than any month in recent memory. Sometimes I despair and wonder if my prayers benefit anyone or anything. Then I hear of advances and answers to prayers for others and I think maybe they are. I hope you enjoy Fr. Dan’s reflection.
This morning I drove toward Mt. Irenaeus in with a hint of snow in the air and a pall of overcast. It didn’t look like an idyllic Palm Sunday. Our liturgy began in the library under Holy Peace Chapel. Fr. Dan Riley, OFM blessed the palms and invited us to process outside, along the path and up the steps to the chapel. As we walked we sang, “oh Sacred Head surrounded by crown of piercing thorns, oh bleeding head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn…” It’s a song I remember well from my youth. The words of the song are ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux. That information was new to me but the symbolism was not lost as I am a frequent visitor to Trappist Abbeys. Continue reading “Prelude”
I’m enjoying the warmth of the sun and enjoying the view of fresh snow and beautiful blues skies after two days of winter storms. There is a peaceful still here this morning and I’ve been basking in it. Friday night we braved the elements and drove to nearby Ellicottville for a cozy dinner at Tips Up Cafe. It’s my favorite restaraunt in E’ville. Yesterday we drove nearly a hundred miles to Canandaigua, New York and the campus of Finger Lakes Community College to watch Pioneer Central girls basketball compete against Honeoye Falls. Pioneer lost in a close game. Our children thought we were crazy to drive through such weather and road conditions and they were right. We were crazy but we made it safely there and back. I like a little adventure now and then. Without it there is no growth and life is always about growth. I wanted to stop at Polimeni’s Restaraunt in Canandaigua and enjoy another good meal with my wife, but we discovered that Polimeni’s was closed last night and had to settle for dinner at Pizza Hut closer to home.
I’ll be leaving for Mt. Irenaeus soon. It’ll be a lovely ride this morning. Next week is Palm Sunday and then Holy Week. One of my favorite nights in the church calendar is coming. The night we used to call Holy Thursday. I hope to celebrate it with the friars again this year. A dish-to-pass supper at Mt. Irenaeus and then Mass followed by benediction. It’s always a blessed and mystical night for me.