Greetings on this Monday of Holy Week.
I attended the 9:30 A.M. Mass yesterday at Old Saint Patrick's, my parish.
It began with our pastor, at the edge of the large gallery, welcoming all, and proclaiming the Gospel of Luke that recounts the Lord's entry into Jerusalem, followed by the procession, during which our palm branches were blessed with large amounts of holy water. My view:
When I was a little kid, my grandmother, "Memere Galipeau," taught us how to weave the palms. Back then, we received a palm frond with lots of pieces of palms, so one could really do a beautiful weave. I have noticed that in parishes in recent years, the palms are split apart so that one only gets a few pieces. But, as I do every year, in honor of my grandmother and my Dad, who weaves his beautifully as well, I did my best with the weave.
It now adorns a little sacred area in my office here at WLP.
The Passion was proclaimed in narrative sections by three readers and the refrain and one Good Friday verse to Tony Alonso's We Should Glory in the Cross was sung at three key moments. It really worked beautifully. My pastor in the center:
So many memories are stirred within me as Holy Week dawns each year. I remember going to the liturgies as a nine-year-old at my home parish in Woburn Massachusetts, Saint Charles. I was fascinated by all that was going on. I loved standing for the passion reading on Palm Sunday and Good Friday (sadly, most places I have been in recent years have people sit during the proclamation.) I remember those Palm Sunday liturgies when I was in the seminary. I remember the beautiful red cope being worn by the celebrant for the first part of the liturgy and watching him change into the chasuble for the Liturgy of the Word.
These holiest of days reach deeply into that most Catholic part of me. It is also a time where I feel the cross so poignantly. When we sang David Haas' Now We Remain at communion yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how that song, sung at a Good Friday liturgy over thirty years ago, brought me back into the Catholic faith. My sister, who died in 2001, had been diagnosed that year over thirty years ago with multiple sclerosis and my anger at God was so fierce that my ministry turned into a job; I was just going through the motions, angry at God for striking my sister, and my heart was filled with resentment that was eating away at me. But those words from that song, "for to live with the Lord, we must die with the Lord," grabbed my heart and brought me back. And since that day, I feel like my Catholic faith has become more real, an adult Catholic faith, permeated by the paschal mystery and my own being drawn into that mystery.
That all came back yesterday. I thought about my sister, Joanne, and how painful was much of her life. And I remembered her smile as well. It's all wrapped up in the dying and rising of Christ, isn't it?
I look forward to the rest of the week. I hope your Holy Week is filled with God's grace and mercy.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.