This week we celebrate Palm (Passion) Sunday and look towards Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum.
This Sunday has two names, “Palm” and “Passion”, because we celebrate two distinct and yet connected realities and hear from two gospel accounts. At the entrance to the Church we hear the first gospel account of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. Sometimes we hear Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem described as triumphal. I think these words from Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt written in 1962 provide a keen insight into Jesus’ entry; While Jesus was fulfilling His priestly, prophetic and royal mission on earth, He truly lived in the midst of His people. He did not officiate in a cathedral. He was not a university teacher. He was not seated on a throne. To His first apostles who were to become His intimates, He simply said: Follow me. To become a disciple of Christ implied going with Him in the midst of crowds. He trained His disciples then and there through personal experience. (De Smedt, The Priesthood of the faithful, 1962). Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on an elephant or on a chariot or even on a horse. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey! This fact alone is ripe for prayer and reflection. From this gospel account we then are drawn into Christ’s Passion which leads us into Holy Week and the holiest days of the Christian calendar the Triduum.
The Triduum is a three-day celebration. The Easter Triduum begins with the night of Holy Thursday. It marks the end of the forty days of Lent and the start of the Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday.
Holy Thursday is sometimes referred to as the “Mass of the Last Supper” and we reflect profoundly of Christ’s ministry of service as our feet are washed. The solemn tone is made evident as the altar is stripped bare and the Blessed Sacrament adored.
Good Friday marks the second day and we celebrate of the Passion of the Lord. We hear the words from the Prophet Isaiah and in them see Christ the suffering servant, He surrendered himself to death, while bearing the faults of many.
Easter vigil/Easter Sunday is the third day and the highpoint of our Christian faith. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (CCC 1169).
As the Parish this weekend took up 40 hours of Eucharistic Adoration I was reminded of a homily I read by Pope Francis on the topic. By all accounts Pope Francis is an insightful and gifted preacher and it’s often during these weekday homilies where he goes off “script”, that we hear the most fruitful preaching from the Holy Father. Here is just a snippet of that homily.
“We cannot know the Lord without this habit of worship, to worship in silence, adoration. If I am not mistaken, I believe that this prayer of adoration is the least known by us, it’s the one that we do least. Allow me to say this, waste time in front of the Lord, in front of the mystery of Jesus Christ. Worship him. There in silence, the silence of adoration. He is the Saviour and I worship Him” (Pope Francis 20 October 2016).
I have no doubt that those who “wasted time” with the Lord this weekend will have experienced the grace that comes with adoring Jesus Christ.
This weekend in our two parishes, the 40 hours of Eucharistic Adoration takes place at Birkdale. I am very grateful for the generous offering of so many parishioners to sacrifice their time to keep watch and spend “one hour with me” as Our Lord pleaded in Gethsemane. I know that Jesus will bless us with the grace which flows from this generous love towards God.
God love you
One important way to deepen our love for Jesus and feel His love for us is through the 40 hours of Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that we will celebrate this year at St Mary MacKillop Chapel. This beautiful time of silent prayer where we fulfil the call of Jesus “to spend one hour with me.” I promise you if you generously offer
one hour of Adoration over the weekend Friday 16th of March at 6:00pm all through Saturday until 8:00am on Sunday 18th March, you will come away filled with grace and in a mysterious way, united with Jesus in a manner that increases our faith. Please consider offering one hour during that weekend. There are rosters in the foyers of both our Churches for you to place your name.
Generosity towards God in prayer is always rewarded by a “joy beyond human understanding.” This joy is the understanding and deep knowledge that Christ is truly alive in you and me, through the Holy Eucharist, this is made possible. May the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist help us become our true selves and discover His beautiful presence.
God love you
Adoration is also available during Lent on Thursdays between 5pm and 6pm. Come and adore Him!
During the week the Parish took delivery of our new Paschal candle. This beautiful candle is made of bee’s wax by an extraordinary group of nuns from the Benedictine Abbey in Jamberoo, New South Wales. The vocation of this enclosed community of Benedictine nuns is a call to a life of prayer. The great motto of the Benedictines is ora et labora which is Latin for prayer and work. So, part of the work the nuns undertake for the life of the Church is making beautiful candles and we are blessed to have one. These candles also attest to another part of Benedictine spiritualty, "that in all things God may be glorified" (Rule of St Benedict).
This new candle will be lit at the Easter Vigil. At the door of the Church during the Easter Vigil I will lift up the candle and sing, “The Light of Christ”, and everyone will reply, “Thanks be to God”. This is at the heart of the gospel today when Jesus says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).
This week I thought I would include this Lenten prayer written by Fr Henri Nouwen who was a Dutch Catholic Priest and great spiritual writer. We have arrived at the 3rd Week of Lent and so we are halfway on our Lenten journey so I think this prayer is all the more poignant given the timing.
How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer?
How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it?
But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent?
How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?
Yes, Lord, I have to die-with you, through you, and in you-and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection.There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess…. I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again.
(From A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee, Orbis)