April 8, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here we are, preparing for the holiest of all the weeks in the Christian year! If you have never journeyed with the Church through Holy Week, or even if you’ve experienced it many times already, I encourage you to join me in the coming days by entering into the liturgical experience of Our Lord’s last moments of his earthly life.
There are three key staging posts for our Christian pilgrimage during Holy Week. Holy Thursday. Good Friday. And, finally, the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening.Together they are known as the Triduum from the Latin word meaning three days. Though chronologically three separate days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery. So, let’s now chart the Holy Week journey awaiting us as Disciples Together on the Way.
After having celebrated Palm Sunday, we will then travel together to be present at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday as Jesus institutes the Eucharist and the Sacred Priesthood; then onto his death on Good Friday at the hands of Pontius Pilate and the religious authorities; and then wait somberly and prayerfully until sun-down on Holy Saturday as we finally celebrate his rising from the dead and the triumph of life with the Easter Vigil. It’s then that our Lenten fasting ends and our Easter celebration begins!
In the life of every Christian, it’s vital that we remember, we hear again, we make present, we enter into the life of Christ so that we never forget. Even more importantly, we are called to embody his life, death, and resurrection in our own daily lives. There is no more obvious or better time to do that than Holy Week.
How is God inviting us to participate ever more deeply in this holiest of weeks in the Church’s life physically, spiritually, liturgically, and mentally? First, we need to take a moment and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us in our thoughts and plans for this coming week: “Come Holy Spirit…How do you want me to participate more fully with you and the Church in living this Holy Week?”
Along with participating in the liturgical celebrations, maybe some of us will feel called to make this week into a bit of a retreat or maybe fast in a special way until the Easter Vigil.
I want to offer one last invitation for you, in this Holy Week. As we approach Good Friday, I invite you to join me in praying the Divine Mercy Novena each day, beginning on Good Friday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday. That’s the Sunday following Easter. It used to be known as Low Sunday. Then in the year 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II declared that it would now be known as the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday. As providence would have it, Pope John Paul died upon the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday five years later after his very painful and public passion of his own.
The devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus stems from a series of private revelations received by the Polish nun Saint Faustina Kowalska in the mid-20th century. She records in her diary that Jesus said to her:
“This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.”
Hence, this great gift of Divine Mercy from our Lord is the fruit of the Easter mystery we celebrate. It is therefore quite fitting that we celebrate Easter Sunday and the gift of God’s divine mercy for eight days with great feasting, family, and fun.
So, to some things up. My challenge for this week is that we Attend the Holy Week services. Secondly, I ask that we Begin the Divine Mercy Novena on Good Friday.
I pray that you and your loved ones have a blessed Holy Week. And may God bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing