Holy Week – Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday:

As the last supper drew to a close, Jesus had less than 24 hours to live. It was time to speak his last words to his friends. But what could he say? His sadness was so great. So, at first he said nothing. In John’s gospel there is no account of the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. Instead there is an account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  When I was a curate in St Mirin’s Cathedral, a Church of Scotland minister used to come and give us his copies of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. I knew that he often slipped into Mass in St. Charles’ Church and he would attend Holy Hours in both churches.  I was convinced that he was not coming to honour a symbol. He could have done that in his own church.  So, why did he come?  Could he hear the words of Jesus ringing in his ears?  “Do this in memory of Me”. If a Church of Scotland minister took the words of Jesus the Christ at their face value, should any Catholic do less?  Perhaps we should reflect on the words of St. Pio of Pietrelcina….Padre Pio, particularly in these days when we are unable to attend Holy Mass.  He said, “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.”  The Mass of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist contains this strange custom of the Washing of the Feet.  The feet are the lowliest part of the body: the closest to the ground, the most humble. God reaches out to us in Christ even beyond the closed doors of our churches.  And He does so in love.  We need never be without the comfort and strength of His presence. He washes our feet – a tender reminder of his service and undying affection. He fed the disciples, he washed their feet, and then he went out to die.

Let us Pray:

God our Father,

we pray for your Church called to renewal at this time, that our faith will be stronger,

hope more secure and charity ever more generous.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Holy Week – Wednesday

Wednesday:

Normally in a parish this is a useful day as we are about to celebrate the Sacred Triduum.  Busy days ahead.  People to see.  Arrangements to be made.  Plenty to do.  But now…nothing.  For priests, the days to come will be strange as they celebrate the three holy days in an empty church with no congregation, no servers and no readers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.   Memories, perhaps, of hectic times that were so tiring and, at the same time, so rewarding. Did Mary feel empty and raw as it dawned on her that Jesus was about to fulfil His Task but only after torturous suffering?  Did she ponder what those final moments would be like and would hold in store for her?  What were her thoughts as she realised she would soon hold her dead son in her arms, picking the thorns from His head, cuddling the Body as if to warm it back into life?  Did the Apostles avoid looking at one another as they possibly considered their abandonment…their hiding away as their Master died without their loving company?  Did Longinus, the spear-bearer, imagine that his life was about to change and give him his place in history?  Did the soldiers realise that they would soon be shamed as they held the pieces of the Saviour’s clothes in their hands?  Would the people in the towns and villages, be astounded if they had known that soon they would shout, “Crucify Him?”  What would Barabas have thought as he was unexpectedly given his life and freedom?  Would Pilate and his wife know that they were about to say words that would be recorded in the history of the world?  Will Jesus shirk away or bear the signs of his Passion for all eternity?  The Master is about to die.  All I have are my thoughts.

Let us Pray:

Loving Father, in your great love answer us, and bring to every restless, fearful and anxious heart

a lasting and courageous peace.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Holy Week – Tuesday

Tuesday:

These days for most of us, there is no Confession, no Eucharist, no Mass.  No Liturgy at all.  How difficult it may seem to prepare for the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection.  However, with the aid of the internet and live-streaming of Holy Mass, we can contemplate Jesus still in our lives.  Jesus often comes to us in the simple things of life.  A few days ago a priest-friend of mine was stopped in the Via della Conciliazione leading to St Peter’s Square.  He was about to produce the document giving permission for him to be there whereupon, one of the Carabinieri said, “No, Monsignor, we are stopping you to ask for a blessing.”  A small but sweet gift from the Lord. We don’t easily contemplate dying, and we rarely contemplate being dead.  I wonder if you have ever had the experience of being with someone at the moment of death. It is an obvious but profound thing to say that with death, life ends.  Breathing stops.  You wait, wondering if there is going to be another breath. But no….in an instant, the life of this person has ended.  Last week I officiated at the burial of Alice.  In the exact moment that I raised my hand to bless the grave, the local church bell began to peal.  One stroke, two, seven and eventually eleven.  It was the Eleventh Hour.  In the midst of sadness, it was as if Jesus was saying, “Do not be afraid.  I am here” ….and we were all filled  with incredible peace.  That we are saved from the ultimate power of sin and of death itself, comes to us as a great relief, as a tremendous liberation.  If Jesus lives, you and I will live!  The mystery of death,  will be overcome – we will live forever!

Let us Pray:    

Lord, in this time of trouble we take our refuge in you.

Let us, delivered from present danger, sing of your salvation, given through Jesus your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

 Amen

Holy Week – Monday

Holy Week is most definitely a very sacred time of the year, for it is now that we will commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth. These are the days leading up to the great Easter Feast. The Lenten season of sacrifice and self-denial is about to come to an end, but this coming week is extremely important for all Christians. The greatest focus of the week is the Passion (suffering) and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events that led up to it.

To help us continue this journey , Monsignor Monaghan has prepared a reflection and prayer for each day of this week to use with you and your family.

Monday:

There is a Latin Hymn we used to sing when I was a student.  It was called “Crux Fidelis”…”Faithful Cross” and it contained the lines, “Sweet nails, sweet tree where life begins.”  When we think of the physical torture of the Crucifixion, the word sweet would hardly be the first descriptive word that comes to mind.  Yet it was, for Jesus.  It was his destiny.  It was a fulfilling moment.  And it was, what he had waited for all his life.  A cross would never again be sign of infamy…never again be that which brought about dishonour.  The nails are sweet, the cross is sweet because their very existence brings sinners …brings us… to welcoming arms.  So, this day, we love the Cross as Jesus did.  We adore the Cross as Jesus did.  We kiss the Cross as Jesus did.

Let us Pray:

Father, be our light and salvation always,

and at this time of distress, comfort every heart,

strengthen every will, and flourish in every person

the depth of compassion, one for the other.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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