Today the Church enters the most solemn week of her liturgical year. During Holy Week, we accompany Jesus Christ in His Passion and Death, which finally bear fruit in His most sacred Resurrection. We are not mere bystanders at these events, but they enter into our souls to the extent that we open ourselves to them.
The Sacred Liturgy is our teacher in the spirituality of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we welcome with joy into our hearts Jesus Christ our King, so that we might be filled with the hope of entering one day into the New and Heavenly Jerusalem, following where our Head has gone before us.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, the Church sings the Passion according to Mark and Luke, respectively. These more contemplative days of our Week allow us to meditate deeply on the theological richness of the Passion narrative. We especially see how much Our Savior loves us, that He freely hands Himself over, in all humility, to such immense suffering for our salvation.
On Holy Thursday, the Church interrupts her sacred gloom to celebrate with more festivity three wonderful mysteries: the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ, the most august Sacrament of the Altar, and the commandment of charity by which we are to live every moment of our lives. On this day, we rejoice at the harmonious unity of these mysteries: the priesthood gives us the Eucharist and the Eucharist gives us the grace to live divine love. We can hear again the words of St. John Chrysostom, that we must clothe Christ in silk on the altar, but that we must also clothe Him in wool in the poor.
On Good Friday, we die with Jesus Christ. We worship His most sacred Cross, which has become for us the tree of true life. We genuflect before the sacred wood that bore Our Savior. Ave Crux, Spes Unica! Hail, O Cross, our Only Hope! The dead body of God is in Mary’s arms, while His separated soul is freeing the just from the Limbo of the Fathers in the descent into Hell.
On Holy Saturday, we have nowhere to go but to our Sorrowful Mother. She alone keeps the faith in the Resurrection on this dark day. We continue our sacred fast and we keep her company in our empty church, praying as much of the Holy Rosary as we can. We are with the Magdalene by the tomb, weeping. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
Fr. Joseph Previtali