Palm Sunday : April 5 – Passion of the Lord.

I remember a special four months I had in the Holy Land being especially privileged to be there through Holy Week – where with people from many nations processing we sang Hosanna waving Palms as we entered the old city of Jerusalem –  Yes it was deeply moving – specially as I witnessed the traditional start, through the first liturgy of Holy Week, our most solemn week in the Church’s year – CHRIST THE UNIFER, – BRINGS US TOGETHER AS ONE

In the Holy City I reflected – on Jesus entering Jerusalem, not as an all-conquering warrior king, but as a gentle humble messenger – I thought on that Palm Sunday as I joined enthusiastically the procession with pilgrims from all nations, singing in their national tongue waving palms happily. Bishops, Priests,  Religious Brothers and Sisters, the faithful walking as one all contributing to one feeling blessed. From Bethphage – the Mount of Olives we processed  singing ‘ Sing Hosanna – Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna  to the King of Kings  – Hosanna in the Highest –  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord– we entered the Old City through the Lions Gate – I felt excited at what this week would bring,

HOLY THURSDAY calling us to servant-hood – I walked with 40 others, to the beautiful ECCE HOMO chapel we washed each others feet and dried each others hands and welcomed the institution of the EUCHARIST the  preface reminds us that this is the sacrifice and the sacrament of Christ :Solemnly we processed with the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose led with incense and candles – a lovely period of ADORATION followed

GOOD FRIDAY on this and the following day, by a most ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Sacraments at all, except for Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion is distributed during the celebration of the Lord’s Passion – the altar is completely bare the reading of the Lord’s Passion takes place – I recall earlier that day walking the Via Dolorosa – along the procession route in the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the former Antonia Fortress to the Holy Sepulchre a distance of 600 metres this route is considered Sacred in Christianity. Via Dolorosa is Latin for “Sorrowful Way” or “Way of Suffering “ marked by 14 stations of the Cross, the final five stations are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Easter Vigil in the Holy Night before a blazing fire when the people have gathered the priest(Bishop) begins ‘Dear Brothers and Sisters ‘on this most sacred night in which Jesus Christ passed over from death to life ‘ – blesses the fire ‘sanctify this new fire  – the Alpha and Omega signs are cut, the year of the lord into which the five grains of incense are inserted into the candle in the form of a cross The Procession with all following the now lit Candle –Intoned ‘Light of Christ’ All reply ‘Thanks be to God’ and the Exsultet is sung these words ring out especially for me ‘ Oh happy fault – Oh necessary sin of Adam, that brought us Christ our Saviour – so great a redeemer A truly blessed night’- the liturgy of the word follows lights come on to ‘Alleluias’ baptism of our Catechumens and reception of our candidate – renewal of baptism promises everything is so exciting and we leave at the end of the Mass singing the words  our hearts ringing with ‘Thanks be to God Alleluia Alleluia’

Have a Happy and special Holy Week – one feels the absence of being together in this most special week – its a great sorrow I know for you and for me, but in our hearts we are one.

Please stay inside protect yourselves during this very trying and difficult time.

May the good thing that comes out of all this is our ongoing outreach to each other – let no one be lonely – a kind phone call a shared prayer and love to you all.

Dean Peter