“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans. 12:12)
“We must fan the flame of hope.” Pope Francis
As we enter Holy Week, I admit to feeling burdened by all the sin and evil in our world. Sometimes I wonder if we will ever get it right. And what does “getting it right” even mean? It would be easy to fall prey to a profound sense of pessimism. But we are Christians, and Christians are filled with a profound sense of hope because we know that God is with us, always and everywhere, even in our darkest moments.
Some people may ask “where is God” when faced with dread and darkness. Christians by contrast see God right there, suffering with those who are suffering. Our God is not a kind of superhero who avenges those who do evil and redresses injustice, rather our God goes much deeper by redeeming those who have been hurt and harmed.
According to St. Matthew, while Jesus was dying on the cross some of the bystanders mocked Jesus and said “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” as if they were expecting God to forcefully intervene. God did powerfully intervene but in a way which is very different than our worldly ways. God was there, on the cross with Jesus even in his most desolate moment when he cried out “my God, why have you forsaken me?” God was there. God did not remedy this unbearable situation. God did much more by redeeming Jesus’ suffering and death while raising him from the dead.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate during Holy Week is the unmistakable proof that God is with us, always, not as a rectifier but as a redeemer who suffers with us and who raises us to new life.
Therefore, we should not let ourselves be absorbed by all the things that are going wrong in our world, rather we should put our trust in Jesus and heed his voice no matter the gravity of the situation because Jesus, Immanuel, is God-with-us, always, everywhere, even in the darkest of times.
During Holy Week, let us bend our knees by participating in the Liturgies of Holy Week; mend our heart by fasting from pessimism; and lend our hands by fanning the flame of hope.
- Mending our Heart by Fasting from Pessimism
- During his homily on Pentecost 2020, Pope Francis denounced pessimism and cautioned us against a “famine of hope.” Christians, he said should stop complaining that “nothing is going well in society, politics, the church” while doing nothing about it.
- Christians are in a unique position to look at the world through the lens of hope, the lens of endless opportunities and the infinite chance of new beginnings. Though we recognize and fight evil and suffering, we also believe in the resurrection and the eternal desire of God to redeem everything and everyone, even the worst situations and the worst people.
- So, as we gaze upon the wood of the cross, the instrument of our salvation let us put aside all pessimism, hold on to hope and commit ourselves to the kind of world God has in mind for us.
- Bending our Knees by Participating in the Liturgies of Holy Week
- On Palm Sunday of our Lord’s Passion, we recall Jesus’ glorious entrance into Jerusalem, and we listen to the story of his Passion.
- On Holy Thursday we remember how Jesus embodied Divine Mercy by washing the feet of his disciples and by instituting the Eucharist.
- On Good Friday we behold the unfathomable mystery of the passion and death of the Son of God who willingly surrendered to death so we might live.
- On Holy Saturday we observe a solemn silence as Jesus lies in the tomb and breaks down the gates of hell only to burst out in Alleluias as we celebrate his glorious resurrection.
- On Easter Sunday we give voice to our profound gratitude for the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and our participation therein by virtue of our baptism.
- Lending our Hands by Fanning the Flame of Hope
- This week as we contemplate the suffering of Christ, let us think about the many injustices and concerns that plague our world and ask ourselves how we can make a difference. The hope of Christianity gives us the courage to speak and act on behalf of those in need without any fear.
- Above all, we are called to fan the flame of hope we were given at our baptism and to inspire everyone to look at the future filled with that hope that flows from the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Filled with hope and in response to God’s grace and mercy for us let us show mercy to one another by helping where we can. Please visit https://mary.org/christian-life-volunteers/ to find out how you might best serve our community and work for a better world.
And please always remember to be patient with yourself and others. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.
Blessed Holy Week
Johan van Parys
Director of Liturgy & Sacred Arts
Palm Sunday Choral Meditation
April 2, 2:00pm followed by vespers at 3:00pm
Light in Deepest Night with The Basilica Schola Cantorum.
Holy Week Taizé Prayer
April 4, 5:30pm
Mantra-like singing of simple, beautiful songs. Communal prayer focused on reconciliation and healing. Opportunity for individual confession. Livestream available