It’s almost Holy Week, a time that writer Michael Ford describes as a “journey within a journey.” I have walked through this holiest of weeks many times and yet it continues to take on new and more significant meaning. Every year, I resonate a bit more strongly with the themes of loss and letting go, of God’s mercy extended and received, and of struggling to follow Jesus as he makes his way through the gates of Jerusalem, into the upper room and out into a garden of agony, along the way of the cross, and into a cold and empty tomb. I brace myself each year for the terrible cruelty that arises in the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. I also take heart in the accounts on Holy Thursday of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and gifting them with his own Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine.
This year I feel like I am also able to attend to the quiet waiting that is the essence of Holy Saturday. As a child, it was an anticipatory day during which I awaited the candy and the good food we would share as a family on Easter morning. Now it seems more a time of tranquility, one that comes after a storm has passed and all that remains is resting in hopeful expectation for new life to come out of death.
I was in the choir while in elementary school and one of the high points of the year was singing at the Easter Vigil. I still recall the wonder I felt when, during the blackness of night and from the vantage point of the choir loft, I could see light accumulating as the flame from the Paschal candle was passed from one person to the next. I plan to attend the Vigil again this year and, no doubt, will continue to draw hope and joy from a time-honored rite that celebrates life arising from death and the brilliance emerging from places of desolation and despair.
Use the resources on the USCCB web site as a help in reading and reflecting upon the liturgies during Holy Week, or to discuss them with your family or class.