“The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.’ And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds replied, ‘This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.’” – Jn. 4:13-14
“Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons!” – Pope Francis
The strangest Holy Week in living memory!
The year 2020 will go on record as having the strangest Holy Week in living memory. Around the world, Catholic churches will be closed to the public celebration of these holiest days of the year. The faithful will not be processing and singing “hosanna.” There will be no gatherings in the church to recall the Lord’s Supper or how Jesus taught us the depth of love by washing his disicple’s feet. Massive crosses will not be venerated in churches. No Easter fire will be lit and no new Paschal candles will be blessed. The waters of baptism will not flow. Holy Communion will not be received. Alleluia will not resound from our churches.
How painful this is!
Like the time of the exile of God’s chosen people, we find ourselves unable to gather to offer sacrifice to the Lord. Our celebrations are silenced. While our priests faithfully render our thanksgiving sacrifice, we are scattered when our hearts most long to be gathered.
Our faith is being purified. The Paschal Mystery of Jesus moving through death to new life is real. We believe this. We trust in what we cannot see or even celebrate. Jesus is alive and is the Lord of all! Instead of this great mystery being proclaimed through public ritual and song, it will be lived in our hearts and in our homes. Each small prayer, each quiet act of service proclaims Jesus’ victory of sin and death
While our family prayer and household rituals may pale in comparison to our regular Holy Week celebrations, I think they may reflect a deeper, purer faith. They reveal the faith of the exile. These simple rituals and gentle acts of love are born of suffering and uncertainty. All that remains is faith in God’s power in the midst of our own powerlessness.
During times similar to ours, the prophet Habakkuk wrote of this naked faith stripped of certainty. Looking around, the prophet saw nothing but poverty, brokenness, and destruction. There was no salvation to be seen, only desolation. Yet, the prophet responds with trust and joy.
“For though the fig tree does not blossom,
And no fruit appears on the vine,
Though the yield of the olive fails
And the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold
And there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
And exult in my saving God.
God, my Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet swift as those of deer
And enables me to tread upon the heights.”
May this Holy Week bear the fruit of faith.
Parish Pastoral Leader