Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
With the arrival of Palm Sunday we are now on the threshold of Holy Week which, we need to remind ourselves again, represents the highpoint of the Church’s liturgical year. It is after all ‘the Great Week’. All the other Church seasons draw their significance and importance from what we remember and celebrate during the ceremonies of Holy Week, especially the Sacred Triduum.
At the centre of the Holy Week liturgy stands the person of Jesus Christ. We accompany him, in spirit as it were, from his triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday riding a donkey, through what we know and cherish as the Last Supper on Holy Thursday evening with his intimate friends, followed by his arrest, trial and finally death by crucifixion on Good Friday.
These poignant and sad days are fully eclipsed by the light, the joy and the hope which find expression in the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening, described long ago by the Fathers of the Church as the ‘Mother of all Vigils.’
The liturgical events of Holy Week may be compared to a pilgrimage with Our Lord during the final stages of his earthly life. Mysteriously, but somehow in a manner that is real, we relive for ourselves these sacred and saving events.
The wonder of the Church’s liturgy is that it permits us to be caught up in the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. We are not just recalling distant happenings of two thousand years ago, but are sharing spiritually in the fruits and graces won for us by the cross of the Lord.
As we make our journey through Holy Week we should do so with a sense of awe and humility. The One on whom we fix our gaze, the suffering servant as spoken of and prophesied by Isaiah, is experiencing the full depths of what it is to be human, emptying himself of his godhead and becoming a slave out of love for the whole of humanity.
The mystery of Christ on the cross reduces us all to an attitude of silent reverence. In the presence of this mystery, words and human reason only take us so far.
The cross casts a long shadow over Holy Week, but is far from concluding the drama. God the Father did not allow his Son’s faith and trust in him to be misplaced. His work of creation was not exhausted when he rested on the seventh day, according to Genesis.
A further and unimaginable creative act was revealed when he raised his crucified Son from death to glory on the third day.
Betrayal, suffering and wickedness would not have the last word, the risen Lord on Easter day would be the living proof of that. With good reason therefore we will recite and sing Alleluia many times during Eastertide!
As we draw our Lent to a close, may the liturgy of this Holy Week and Easter Day prove to be a spiritual springtime for the universal Church and for each one of us.
Until next week’s blog post – let us pray for one another throughout this Great Week!
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster