Sunday, April 5, 2020

Holy Week in the "Lentiest Lent I Ever Lented"

In 2015, I wrote on this blog about how much I benefit spiritually every year from attending Mass and the Good Friday Services throughout Passiontide and Holy Week:

I love being Catholic every Passiontide and Holy Week. Our Church has a series of rituals and special hymns to accompany us on the journey from Passion Sunday through Palm Sunday and the Triduum to Easter Sunday.

Then I commented near the end of the post, never thinking the day would ever come:

Also, every Holy Week when I experience these rituals, I think how horrible it would be to lose these outward representations--some are sacramentals and some are Sacraments--of the great Paschal Mystery. The Catholic people of England lost these rituals, and many others in the Sarum Use, in the sixteenth century. They were taken away in the name of preventing superstition but these rituals were not superstitious; the Church had developed these rituals to remind people of all that Jesus had done for His people, the Church.

The rituals of Holy Week were taken away because the reformers did not trust the unity between Jesus and His Church; the reformers were complicating the matter in a way that St. Joan of Arc had warned against: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing and we shouldn't complicate the matter." Because the English reformers complicated the matter, the Catholic people of England ended up with palmless Palm Sundays, candleless Candlemases and ashless Ash Wednesdays not to mention Shrovetide without Confession and Communion without the Real Presence. So within a couple of generations, they weren't the Catholic people of England anymore and yet a few endured, suffered, survived and revived three centuries later--which is another miracle indeed.

Of course anything good can be abused; even replacing rituals with a non-ritual can be abused and even reading the Bible could be abused superstitiously. Our Christian faith is an incarnational religion that unites the human and Divine in the great mystery and miracle of Jesus and His Church, His Bride for whom He lived and died and rose and lives always. The Catholic Church, messy and sinful as we certainly are with people like me among us, displays that mystery most miraculously every Passiontide, Holy Week, and Triduum.

Both pictures provided and copyright by Mark U. Mann (c) 2013-2015; used by permission. (Holy Week afternoon at Blessed Sacrament; Easter Sunday at St. Anthony of Padua.)

I don't think we're going to have a palmless Palm Sunday in our parish, Blessed Sacrament, at least. Our pastor and parochial vicar will hand them out in a drive through after the private Masses on Saturday and Sunday!! God bless them! Father Heiman and Father Siegman will celebrate each of the service of the Holy Triduum and broadcast them on Facebook and YouTube, but none of us can attend them of course. Our Bishop, Carl Kemme, is even celebrating the Chrism Mass on Tuesday (blessed the oils at least) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception!

God bless you all this Holy Week! 

1 comment:

  1. Many times over this last week of a Triduum without being in church I've thought of how it must have been for the people of England and Ireland to be unable to celebrate these liturgies in public over more than 200 years. Similarly for the Catholic people of Japan. We are so fortunate that we were able to participate virtually at the regular Triduum liturgies in our own parishes or at least in ones we know, as well as in the Vatican and elsewhere in the world. But we also were given the privilege of veneration of the Crown of Thorns and the Holy Shroud, which does not come along too often. In spite of the aching absence each of us was accompanied by the entire Church uniting around our center. In that we are very fortunate and I am very grateful.