By Archbishop Gregory Aymond
It is hard to believe that we are already celebrating the third Sunday of Lent. I hope that your Lenten journey has been one of prayer and sacrifice. Lent is an opportunity for us to look honestly at ourselves, thus recognizing both our gifts and our weakness. In these weaknesses, we find sin and we bring it to God to ask for his mercy in order that we may experience a change of heart.
As Lent continues, we will come upon Holy Week on April 14. The best way to celebrate Holy Week is to participate in the liturgies in your parish church.
On Palm Sunday, we come together to remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem when he was hailed as the King and Messiah.
As we know, it was five days later that he was crucified. Palm Sunday, as it is known now as Passion Sunday, gives us an opportunity to carefully listen to the Passion, which is read at Mass and to make a pledge to journey with Jesus in his suffering and death.
I encourage you to celebrate Mass with your families on Holy Thursday. On that sacred day, we remember that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in a spirit of total humility and he instituted the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, he took bread and said, “This is my body.” He took a cup of wine and said, “This is my blood.” It is a sacred day when we will remember that Jesus gave us the Eucharist, his own Body and Blood as our food for the journey of life.
On Friday, we celebrate Good Friday. It is good because Jesus offered himself to the Father as a sacrifice for our sins and reconciled humanity once and for all. We go to church on Friday to listen to the Scriptures tell us about the sufferings of Christ and to receive Holy Communion. On Good Friday, we should find ourselves either at this service which commemorates Jesus’ death or participate in the Stations of the Cross. Check the schedule for your parish.
On Holy Saturday, many participate in the vigil, which is a Mass celebrating the resurrection of Christ. At that Mass, we also witness the baptism of those who are becoming Catholic Christians and the Profession of Faith of those who are already Christian and becoming Catholic.
Whether you celebrate Mass on Saturday or Sunday, it is the joy of the resurrection that we embrace. Jesus not only died for us, but as he promised he was raised from the dead and goes to prepare a place for us in his Father’s kingdom.
Please make sure on the sacred days that you and your families are able to celebrate through these beautiful liturgies. It is the best way that we can celebrate Holy Week.
As we know in our world today, very often some of these days and especially Good Friday is used for fish fries, crawfish boils or other festivities. Good Friday should call us to a quiet day concentrating on the suffering and death of Christ, which leads us to a promise of new life that he gives to each of us.
I hope and pray that your Holy Week will be a time of blessing for you and your family.
A brother in Christ, Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans