A word from Pope Francis ~ “The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us.”
Holy Week 2023 – a time for the once-a-year prayer services and rituals that celebrate the deepest mysteries of our faith. Holy Week is a time to turn inward, to prayerfully recount the passion and death of Christ, and to look forward to the glory of Easter when we, like Jesus, are transformed into a new creation.
Willing or not, each of us will have to share in the Lord’s Cross at the moment of our death. Whenever that comes, we believe that God will fulfill the inheritance promised us at our baptism and transform our death into life, just as God did for his Son. But there are also those moments throughout our lives when we participate in the transforming power of the Cross long before our individual deaths. Each one of us experiences “mini-deaths” from time to time as we journey through life. With all that we have faced during the past three years since the start of the pandemic, we may be more conscious of that truth now than previously. Each “mini-death” experience holds the possibility of being transformed into new life by God. Perhaps a few examples might help…
Whenever something we hoped for and longed for didn’t turn out as we desired, a part of us died. We experienced a “mini-death.” A part of us died when we broke up with our high school sweetheart, or with someone we were sure was “the one.” The same was true when our “secure” job evaporated in the face of downsizing, bankruptcy, or an unexpected transfer, or when the 401(k) intended for our retirement vanished by a half or the security of our home was placed in jeopardy. We experienced a “mini-death” when someone we trusted betrayed a confidence. A broken dream or promise, the loss of separation or grief, an untimely injury or sickness, missed opportunities or lost youth, a rejection or failed relationship, or our children take a wrong turn in life – these and many more are “mini-deaths” in our lives. We all experience death to one degree or another throughout our lives, as also did God’s own Son.
Whatever form death takes in our lives, the mystery of the Cross gives us hope. As God transformed Jesus’ death into life, so too will God transform our many experiences of death into new life as well.
Our belief in the transforming power of the Lord’s Cross can give us a very practical way to live this Holy Week of 2023. In whatever ways we may be able to experience our prayer this week, we can gather all of the experiences of death in our lives and bring them to the Cross. Each one of them – from our minor disappointments, to the present day fears we face, to the deaths of those we deeply love – can be brought to the Cross. And as the Lord Jesus squarely faced death so as to be raised to new life, so too can God raise all of our experiences of death to new life. The mystery of the Cross was not meant for Jesus alone – it is hope for all of us.
As we conclude our observance of Lent this Thursday and enter into the Easter Triduum, let us continue to pray for and support each other. The schedule of our services is printed elsewhere in the bulletin. We have additional prayer services scheduled (Stations of the Cross and The Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross on Good Friday) besides our primary Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil services. Know that you have a place in our prayer each day. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy