Holy Week – By Ron Lamping

holy-week-by-ron-lampingThe calendar tells us spring is here, and for many in the country this is a welcome relief! The Church’s liturgical calendar tells us that we are coming upon Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, the most sacred days of the Church’s year.

Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, beginning on Ash Wednesday with the prayer, “Repent, and believe in the Good News.” The days of Lent leading up to Holy Week have been a time to reflect on our individual call to follow our baptismal promises and live a Christian life. Several key words can help to focus on the importance of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.

At the Last Supper we receive the mandate from Jesus to serve others. After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he tells us, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash on another’s feet” (John 13:14). A disciple is one who follows in the footsteps of Jesus. The re-enactment of the washing of the feet is not just for Holy Thursday, but is meant to be a visual reminder of living as a servant-disciple the entire year. How are we doing in following the command of Jesus to be a servant to others as we live out our individual call to discipleship?

To be holy means to be set apart to do something special. Each of us is called to holiness – to be holy as the Lord your God is holy. Holiness is being in communion with God and sharing in his very life and love. The Holiness Code from the Book of Leviticus (chapters 17-26) helps us to focus on three things – faith in God, gratitude to God, and remembrance of God. This is not only a holy time but also a time for us to remember our call to holiness, and see how we are living up to that call.

Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Triduum, when we gather for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion and Death. The vivid accounts in the Gospel calls us to think about the Apostles – their fear, their sorrow, and their loss. The Apostles had been with their best friend Jesus for three years. Now he was gone; they too had run away. Their sorrow and confusion must have been overwhelming. This is a day to remember and experience some of that emptiness and loss. Often when we lose someone we dearly love, we refer to a feeling of emptiness in our hearts. Think of the emptiness, sadness, and sorrow the Apostles must have felt during Jesus’s Passion and Death.

The good news is that the sorrow and loss of Holy Week end with the joyful celebration of the Easter Vigil. And two wonderful words are part of that celebration.

Whenever Jesus met the women and the Apostles after the Resurrection, his first words were always, “Peace be with you!” What a comfort to experience true peace! Peaceful people seem to know and understand that “all will be well,” and that peace is the absence of all fear, despair, and longing. Christians radiate the peace that the Risen Lord brings on Easter morn. And that is the peace we are called to share with each other every time we go to Mass.

It is so important to truly offer someone peace, that same peace Jesus brings to his disciples after the Resurrection and that Jesus sees in all of us. Mother Teresa was a fitting example of this, as she described finding peace in all people. We are called to see peace in each other and to share that peace with each other. Often at Mass we do a quick wave or nod to others during the Sign of Peace. This year, let us try not only to truly give a sign of peace, but to BE a sign of peace to others.

In all of the Easter stories, whenever someone meets and encounters the Risen Lord, they are so filled with joy that they have to run back and tell others that the Lord is truly risen. In the Eastern churches, on Easter morn, Christians greet each other with the words, “Christ is risen!” and the response is, “Christ is truly risen!” This is a joyful greeting and statement of the basis and foundation of our faith. It is a joyful reminder of the great mystery of Faith – Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

Each of our lives should be filled with joy – the joy of knowing Christ is alive and actively working in our lives today. That joy must be so powerful we cannot keep it locked up inside – we have to go out and proclaim and live that joy. Once we have recalled the sorrow and sadness of Good Friday, then we are able to experience the fullness of the joy of the new life of the Risen Jesus. That is the joy of Easter, the joy that must be a vibrant part of our lives. As disciples and followers of Jesus, we live and radiate that joy in our lives.

Ron Lamping is a Senior Sales Representative for RCL Benziger.

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Remembering Saint Joseph – By Daniel S. Mulhall

The Gospels say very little about Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. He is only mentioned a few times by name (Matthew 1:16-25; 2:13ff; Luke 2), although Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter’s son,” so we know Joseph’s profession.

Lack of knowledge has not stopped people over the centuries from developing legends and tales about Saint Joseph, or from creating rituals that involve him. Some of these “remembrances” are, to say the least, very strange, while others seem quite appropriate for the head of the household of the Holy Family.

One of the more unusual rituals is the practice of burying a statue of Saint Joseph upside down in order to sell a home or property. You can even buy kits for this purpose with instructions on what to do. Why this practice is supposed to work is unclear. As one person was heard to say, “Wouldn’t it be more effective to hold statues of Jesus and Mary hostage than to bury a statue of Saint Joseph?”

One lovely practice that families can easily do is the age-old Italian tradition of the Saint Joseph Table. This tradition is still widely practiced today, on or about the March 19 Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The legend is that many centuries ago the island of Sicily experienced a severe famine. Starving villagers prayed for Saint Joseph to intercede on their behalf. Their prayers were answered, the famine ended, and people held a party to celebrate.

To celebrate the tradition of the Saint Joseph Table in the home, prepare a lovely meal and invite others to join you to celebrate that wonderful protector of families.

When held in churches, Italian villages, or Italian-American neighborhoods, this Solemnity of Saint Joseph is celebrated often with a tableau featuring an elderly man, a lovely young woman, and a little child (the Holy Family), and the three are frequently surrounded by a group of twelve men dressed as angels (the Apostles). When the food is blessed the “Holy Family” is served first. Then the entire community celebrates together for an afternoon and evening of feasting.

In a traditional Saint Joseph’s feast there are special decorations, foods (especially Saint Joseph’s Sfinge, a cream puff stuffed with ricotta and covered with oranges and cherries), and symbols. You can find suggestions for food and symbols online. What is most important is that people share what they have to feed their neighbors, especially those who are most in need.

There are many other customs and traditions celebrated by various cultures and communities throughout the Church’s liturgical year. You can learn more about these by visiting SaintsResource.com, SeanMisDiscipulos.com, and BeMyDisciples.com (Catechists/Teachers resources).

Daniel S. Mulhall is the Director of Strategic Markets for RCL Benziger.

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