Friday, April 06, 2007

Thy Will be done

Dearly beloved in Christ

Last Sunday at the Palm Sunday liturgy, we began the sacred procession that leads us to Easter. Tonight, we stand on the threshold of the most holy Triduum. This triune day celebration, as I articulated last Sunday, represents the heart of the Christian mystery, the death and resurrection of Christ. Yet, before this was to take place, Christ desired to celebrate a Passover meal with his disciples.

This brings us to tonight’s celebration which, in some way, seems to move in two separate directions at the same time. On the one hand, we know from the second reading from Paul that this is the night Christ gave us our participation in his suffering and death on the cross which took place in that Passover meal. At it, he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it saying, “Take…eat…this is my body.” In the say may he took the cup of his blood which was poured out for many. This must have been a very confusing statement for all his hearers that night which would only be understood the next day when his blood was literally poured out on the cross. We celebrated that altered Passover meal tonight in the action of the Eucharist and the concluding procession with the Eucharist ending in silent, humble adoration.

Coupled with this Eucharistic notion of Holy Thursday, we hear a gospel that only tangentially mentions a supper but is, instead, securely focused on the service Christ did for us on the cross. Jesus focuses us on this by washing the feet of his disciples, even stubborn old Peter. In turn, I will wash the chair of the parish council’s feet who will wash someone else’s feet. You may also come forward to wash each other’s feet in humble service. We can all imagine that, in a time in which sandals were lushury items and most people traveled by foot along the same path as animals, the feet we wash are far cleaner than the ones Jesus was washing in that dining hall.

This begs the question: What links the humble service of feet washing to the gifts of the Eucharist? Both are related to the cross, though I will focus more on that tomorrow at the Good Friday liturgy. It seems to me that both actions are lessons in the phrase “Thy will be done,” a phrase we pray each time we say that prayer Jesus taught us and one uttered by Our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane in prayer after this Passover meal.

Why did Christ suffer on the cross? Thy will be done
Why did Christ give us his body and blood in the Eucharist? Thy will be done.
Why do we bend down to wash the feet of each other this night? Thy will be done.
Why do we spend time in prayer each day and especially this night? Thy will be done.
Why do I need to love my enemies and pray for my persecutors? Thy will be done.
Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done…

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

out of control

I am getting a different experience of Holy Week this year. I truly feel like everything is spinning out of control, like so much is happening that I can't even focus on the fact that this is the holiest week of the year. Please keep me in your prayers.

Monday, April 02, 2007

why prayer is not acting

Karol Józef Wojtyła was a great actor. In his homeland of Poland, he used drama, banned by the communists, to express his frustration with the oppressive Russian regime. By all accounts, he was a very animated actor. In fact, when Karol became Pope John Paul II he was known for two things. He was extremely outgoing in his evangelical/pastoral visits and in his World Youth Days. The famous scene of John Paul and the hockey stick is still remembered. But, when it came to prayer, he was extremely un-animated. He could have African dancers in procession but, at the heart of the prayer, it was always reverent. That's because the Pope understood that, while anything can lead us to prayer, fundamentally prayer is a movement of the heart accomplished by God best done in silent reverance. The more we try to add the more sloppy it gets and the more it deals with us praising ourselves and less about connecting with the God who calls us to be his people. I struggle with this during the reading of the passion. I'm a pretty animated person. I think that it's expected in a college atmosphere. But, am I really helping my parishioners connect to God or just to think that I'm a good singer/reader? How am I emptying myself so that Christ can fill me up?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A brief homily or Palm Sunday

Given the length of today's mass, this was what I came up with for a homily....

This celebration of the Lord’s glorious entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday begins a sacred procession through Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper to Good Friday and the crucifixion and death of the Lord: Good Friday the one day that we are prohibited from celebrating mass, to the glory of Easter. I encourage you, if at all possible, to make room in your schedules this holy week as we gather at 7:00 Thursday and Friday and 8:30 next Saturday to remember these three great days in the life of our church. This is the week in the life of the Christian that gives meaning to the other weeks and celebrations during the year. Christmas would be meaningless without Easter. Sunday would not be the day of the S-O-N without these three days that seem like one long day. Our entire life as church hinges on these three days of chaos that begin with a transformed Seder meal in which Christ gives us his body and blood, moves to the unexpected trauma and tragedy of the innocent one who is crucified and dies, to the glory of the empty tomb. We enter into a process of celebration, mourning, and victory. We shall look on him whom we have pierced and truly know love.