Jottings from Fr. J.J.

HOLY WEEK – Lent is almost over. It will end on Thursday of this week. That is when we begin the shortest and one of the most powerful liturgical  seasons (the Triduum). The liturgies celebrated throughout this week take a heck of a lot of planning and practice. Why? We only celebrate them once a year. As humans, we have a tendency to avoid things that are “different.” Therefore, there are many who have never experienced the wonders of this awesome week. 

First, today we celebrate Palm Sunday, also referred to as Passion Sunday. We have two Gospels proclaimed today: one to commemorate Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem; and the second to recall why He did that, i.e. to accomplish the Paschal Mystery. The grand procession with our children and their noise makers is a grand entrance to remind us that we too go with Christ to Jerusalem. Like those who laid branches of the trees on the ground and sung their Hosannas, we wave our palms in the air and honor Christ our triumphant King. But then, through the “suffering servant” reading and the reading of the Passion, we find ourselves standing at the foot of the cross. “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” is a far contrast from the Hosannas. With our sinfulness, we enter into this Holy Week, more aware, and introspective. We are His disciples.

The Triduum is Latin for “the three days”. It begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Ironically, the night which is a celebration of the Eucharist does not have the Last Supper as the Gospel. Rather, it has John 13:1-15 where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. Then, actual feet are washed. Why? Not only does the Holy Spirit descend on the bread and wine to transform them, but on the entire congregation to make us the Body of Christ. We therefore, are to humbly and lovingly serve our sisters and brothers. It is an institution of the priesthood that we all share in through our Baptism. That night, we spend time before the Eucharist after the liturgy and we recognize what He has done for all of us in the Eucharist.

The liturgies celebrated on Good Friday are the most solemn of any throughout the year. No Mass is celebrated, we are called to fast; there are no greetings, genuflections, or opening songs. We simply come and prostrate ourselves in humble submission before the Word and the Cross. After the Passion is read and the Cross is kissed, it ends with a simple Communion service.

Notice that there is no 5 o’clock Mass on Holy Saturday evening. There is an Easter Vigil though. St. Augustine describes it as the “Mother of all vigils.” It is a celebration of our entire faith throughout Salvation History. New Catholics are initiated fully into the Church. It begins with the Easter Fire and a    special service of light. In this light, we keep watch. We then tell our story beginning with Creation and we continue until Christ’s arrival. The Gloria is sung and we can joyfully sing our Alleluias once again. Christ is Risen. The elect are baptized and confirmed and we all partake in the celebration of the Eucharist.

I invite you to take time this week to make it Holy. Pray for those who will be received into the Church. Eliminate meetings, television, or anything that may pull you away from the experience. If you enter into it fully, you will truly be transformed. So please plan your schedule accordingly. 

MAKE PEACE WITH GOD AND NEIGHBOR – Last Monday night we had a great Parish Reconciliation service. There were nine clergy here to hear confessions. I was surprised at the low numbers of folks who showed up. I hope it is because we have added so many extra reconciliation opportunities throughout all of Lent; but if it is because you are avoiding it, don’t give in to that temptation. I know it is not always “fun” to focus in on our faults and failings, but believe me, if you celebrate that beautiful sacrament, you will have a better Easter and a better life. You still have a chance. We have two opportunities left this week. The Vicariate Reconciliation Services are on Monday at Shrine and on Tuesday at St. Hugo’s. Both are at 7 p.m. 

PARISHIONER SPOTLIGHT – As you already know, St. Anastasia is a very large parish, one of the largest in the Archdiocese. If you are not careful, you could potentially attend Mass for an entire year and never once sit next to the same person or family. Also, if you are not involved in any of the bazillion ministries or activities that go on throughout the week, you could possibly not know a single other parishioner by name. This is not necessarily the best thing when trying to build a tight-knit community. Therefore, to assist the process of getting to know your fellow parishioners, every month we have been shining the spotlight on a particular parish member. The bulletin board placed just   outside the kitchen in the Social Hall has featured info about this person; i.e. who they are, who their family is, what they do, what are their gifts, how they share their gifts with the parish, how they live out their faith, etc. We put the bulletin board in the Social Hall so that those who go to coffee and donuts would have a chance to check it out; and maybe to draw a few new faces to share in social opportunity that coffee and donuts provide. If you are interested in being featured, or would like to make a suggestion on whom we should shine the lime light, please call the front office and let us know (anyone is fair game: teens, children, adults, awesome cocker spaniels that are the pastor’s dog, etc.). FYI this month’s person has a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. Who is it? Go in the Social Hall and find out. 

I am always amazed at the generosity and graciousness of the folks I meet along the way; and I thought I would send a little kudos also to John Hlatkey. He dropped off a large number of benches he made and they were sold a few weeks ago. $700 was raised and donated to St. Aloysius to help feed the homeless. Good job parish!

God bless,
Fr. J.J.