Living a Holy Week

 

March 28 will begin Holy Week, this Great Week, say our Orthodox brothers, who we missed so much last year or, at least, that we had to live in a totally new way.

Already in the time of the New Testament, it is on a weekly basis that the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated on the first day of each Week, and no longer on the seventh day evoking God's "rest" after six days of creation. But as early as the second century, the Church felt the need to establish Easter as the pinnacle of the liturgical year and soon a whole week developed the last days of the earthly life of Jesus. Even before Vatican Council II, in 1955, Pope Pius XII reorganized this week and gave it its current look.

It begins on Palm Sunday where the story of the Passion is already unfolding all of these last days. We are particularly sensitive to these blessed twigs that will turn our crosses, signs of death, into a source of life. With Jesus crucified on a tree producing remarkable fruit, Haiti's Lent tapestry, proposed by Help and Fraternity, illustrates it brilliantly.

The Chrismal Mass celebrated by the bishop deserves our attention. The oils used in different sacraments will be blessed and sent throughout the diocese: the oil of the catechumens used at baptism, especially during baptisms of young people or adults, more and more frequent, celebrated in several stages; the oil of the sick, used no longer in "extreme anointing" announcing an imminent death but as a sign of an attentive Jesus accompanying the sick and elderly; the holy Chrême, the fragrant oil of Christ, marking at baptism and confirmation the stages of Christian initiation.

In the celebration of the Last Supper (the dinner!) on Holy Thursday, the liturgical texts complement each other superbly. They leave to St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, the reminder of the institution of the Eucharist, the oldest text evoking it, while St. John reports the washing of the feet, signifying Jesus' choice of the way of service and inviting us to do the same.

In addition to the various forms of the way of the cross associating Jesus with all these righteous unjustly condemned, the celebration of Good Friday will unfold reading of the Passion, long universal prayer, model for our prayers of every Sunday, veneration of the cross and communion with the bread consecrated the day before.

The silence of Holy Saturday will plunge the Church into prayer with Christ at the tomb and as soon as night falls the wonderful Vigil Pascale will bring us together, with its signs and developments so tellings. The fire and the Easter candle will introduce us to the church that remained in the dark. Great texts of the first and new Testament will remind us of God's plan of love for all peoples. They will culminate in the cry “Hallelujah! Christ is risen!” It is usually during this celebration that more and more adults from all walks of life will be baptized and confirmed, hope for the renewal of our communities. It is with them that we will proclaim our faith and that the newly blessed water of sprinkling will refresh us.

As of this writing, it remains for us to hope and wish each other that the efforts of all and the progress of our knowledge of a deadly virus will make it possible to celebrate fully and according to the possibilities of each and every one, this Great Week.

Father José VANDE PUTTE,

spiritual advisor Ascending Life Belgium