For many of us Lent is a humbling experience. We enter with the best of intentions. We truly mean to change our lives for the better, to pray more often, to give sacrifice and service a bigger role in our lives, all as we strive to become more like Jesus in the hope of bringing His message of love and hope to those around us.
By the time Holy Week approaches, we sometimes look back and see just how little success we’ve had in accomplishing all that we set out to do. It would be easy for us to become disappointed an discouraged with ourselves if we weren’t convinced that Jesus loves us in spite of our shortcomings, in spite of our failures, and even in spite of our weakness. If we need a reminder of that, certainly Holy Week is our answer.
Together lets retrace and live once more the events of Jesus’ last days in this world of ours. These are the days in which He showed, time and again, His love for us and His willingness to accept anything, even death, to make it possible for us to share everlasting life and eternal happiness in His Kingdom.
An interesting as well as challenging old fable tells of the colt that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday. The colt thought that the reception was organized to honor him. “I am a unique donkey,” this excited animal might have thought. When he asked his mother if he could walk down the same street alone the next day and be honored again, his mother said, “No, you are nothing without Him who was riding you."
Five days later, the colt saw a huge crowd of people in the street. It was Good Friday, and the soldiers were taking Jesus to Calvary. The colt could not resist the temptation of another royal reception. Ignoring the warning of his mother, he ran to the street, but he had to flee for his life as soldiers chased him and people stoned him. The colt finally learned the lesson that he was only a poor donkey without Jesus to ride on him. As we enter Holy Week, today’s readings challenge us to examine our lives to see whether we carry Jesus within us and bear witness to him through our living or whether we are Christians in name only.
Am I ready to surrender my life to Him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior, singing “hosanna”? Today, we receive palm branches at Mass. Let’s take them to our homes and put them some place where we can always see them. Let these palms remind us that Christ is the king of our families, that Christ is the king of our hearts, that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives.
If we do proclaim Christ as our king, let’s try to make time for Him in our daily life; He is the one with whom we will be spending eternity. Let’s also be reminded that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. So, let’s prioritize and place Christ the king as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.
Our Holy Week schedule of services presents each of us with the opportunity to bring our personal journey through Lent to an end, which will prepare us for all the blessings and happiness of Easter. I look forward to sharing these beautiful days, and these inspiring ceremonies with each of you.
Fr. Dennis will preside at Holy Thursday’s Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper which reminds us of some of the principle elements of our faith ~ the institution of the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood, and Jesus’ command to love one another. We begin at 7:00 p.m. Mass concludes with a procession with the Eucharistic to our hall for a place of adoration. Adoration will conclude with closing prayer at 10:30 p.m.
Fr. Chad will preside at the evening liturgy for Good Friday. This is the solemn commemoration of the passion, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. This service contains three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and distribution of Holy Communion. Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence for all Catholics. Our parish youth will present a special edition of the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 p.m.
Fr. Dennis will preside at our Easter Vigil service which is a strong reminder that we will rise one day to share the happiness of eternal life with Jesus. The Great Vigil begins with an outdoor service of fire at 7:30 p.m.; the Liturgy of the Word follows, and then the Liturgy of Sacramental Initiation, and finally, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Easter Sunday morning Mass times are 7, 9, & 11 a.m. Since we expect many guests and visitors on Easter Sunday, we will again put up a large tent to offer cover from the hot sun. The tent will sit about 1200 people. Please come early for the best seats.
Church tradition tells us (though none of the gospels report it), that this wasn't Jesus' first donkey ride. Matthew's text doesn't detail how Joseph traveled with Mary to Egypt and back to Nazareth again. Nor does Luke's gospel describe how Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem. But all of us have in our heads the picture of a pregnant Mary perched on the back of a sturdy donkey. Our mind's eye puts her back on that beast for the escape to Egypt and the homeward trek to Nazareth after Herod had died.
The church has long suggested that in honor of the donkey's humble service to Jesus, the animal was rewarded with a permanent "sign of the cross." Most donkeys do show a distinctive black cross pattern across their shoulders. Despite this lip service from church tradition, the donkey still remains far beyond the pale of glory. Little girls don't dream of riding across summer fields on a little donkey. The Kentucky Derby doesn't blow the herald horn for a herd of donkeys to race around the track. Everyone from Shakespeare to Pinocchio knows that fools and dolts are depicted as donkeys.
Of course, the donkey's other common name says it all: a donkey is just an . . . well, you know what that word is. Yet if the mission of the church is to carry Christ into the world, then each of us is called to be a donkey. There's no particular glory in being a donkey. There are only long trails, steep roads, heavy loads, and little or no earthly recognition for a job well done.