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“Passion & Palms -- 2015”

“Now it begins—the drama of our salvation.” Fr. Vince began his reflection on Holy Week last year with these words. This Sunday at the headwaters of Holy Week goes by these two names. PALMS bring a lot of people to Church each year. I think, more then the Ashes of Ash Wednesday. My grandmother used to put them behind holy pictures and burn them in case of tornados. Fr. Vince had them all over the friary. I think he felt the same way. There is great power in these blessed branches. We proclaim two Gospels for this liturgy. The first is the entrance to Jerusalem of the King of Kings on a donkey. And the second is the lengthy PASSION story of Jesus assigned by the liturgy to the year. They are usually the oldest part of the gospel accounts in the New Testament. They take awhile. They say as much about us as it does about the Christ.

The procession with palms and the reading of the Passion mark the beginning of the most significant week in the annual Christian cycle - leading us from the joyful entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, through his passion and death, to the resurrection of Easter. However, this Holy Week is not intended to simply be a "walk down memory lane." Rather, it is an invitation to become engaged in Jesus' journey and to make connections with our own journey in our heart, mind, and soul.

How do we “make holy” … this Holy Week? Come to the “Triduum,” the sacred Three Days (From Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Washing of Feet), to the Good Friday’s Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3PM with its veneration of the Cross. The week concludes with the Great Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday night after sundown. A number of adults and young people will enter the church through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. To miss them is to limp toward Easter. Review the times that have been in the bulletin for the final weeks of Lent and join us at St. Mary’s.

Take some extra time this week. Consider reading the Passion story in the bible at home, especially the Gospel of Mark. Even if, like a buddy of mine says … he always hopes that it will end differently. Last year, he sent me a picture of a mailbox on the street in San Francisco with a carton of food and a drink underneath it. A restaurant owner made a lunch each day and puts it there for a homeless woman who lives in the alley behind his store. “No fanfare, he said. “Just goodness!”

How are we to live and to face our life’s dramas as Jesus faced his? A few years ago I got snowed in on Good Friday with about a dozen other Franciscan friars. Most of us helped out in different local parishes for Holy Week. All the Churches of Milwaukee were closed so we had to stay home and do Good Friday together with no preparation. We just passed around the Gospel and read it to each other… each of us sharing a bit of faith after our section. It was incredibly beautiful and most of us will never forget it.

How do we “give up” and “pour out” our lives for others … like he did his? That is the question of the hour. When our passion is reviewed at the end of the day, will it speak in a way that gives life and lingers in the hearts of others in a way nobody will ever forget? I hope so. We pray so this holy week.

A tender week.
Fr. Michael

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