by Fr Michael Doyle
As I returned to the presbytery after the morning Mass, the sight of a rose beginning to blossom in the garden struck me. Although the sun is shining brightly, there is still a nip in the air. Today is officially the first day of spring and the garden is beginning to show signs of it. The weather over the past few months has been unpredictable; there has been so much destruction from the battering of storms we have experienced, and still no snow! Yet despite all this, the delicate flower in the garden is springing back to life.
This year, the first day of spring happens to co-incide with the start of Holy Week. Today is Palm Sunday, and in our churches throughout the diocese we have been waving our palms and singing ‘Hosannas’ to our Heavenly King as we commemorate his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This week is the most Sacred week of the Christian calendar, and the most terrifying for clergy as we approach the complicated rituals of the Sacred Triduum. During Holy Week we accompany the Lord through what seemed to be his final moments in Jerusalem and at Calvary. Our thoughts turn to his disciples and the role they had to play. Peter the bold and faithful will betray the Lord and repent of that betrayal, most of the others will run away in fear, and Judas of course is the betrayer who is so overcome with guilt he feels beyond Redemption. But the message of this week has been and always will be – no one is beyond Redemption! The Victory has already been won and from this Most Holy of Weeks great graces are poured out upon us, if we but turn to the Lord like Peter, like Veronica, like Simon.
It is a matter of fact that most of us are stuck, whether it be with a particular sin, difficulties in the Spiritual Life, or difficulties in the physical day-to-day life; and we sometimes lose hope in all of this. The events of Holy Week teach us that there is always hope! And in this Year of Mercy, the events of this week take on a deeper significance. Since the start of this Jubilee Year we have focused on showing Mercy as per the motto “Merciful like the Father”. However, in order to show Mercy we have to experience God’s Mercy in our lives. Therefore, this week, I want to invite you to contemplate over the next few days the following question. Where in my life do I need God’s Mercy most at this time? Then having reflected upon this, when we come to venerate the Cross on Good Friday, as our lips touch the wood let our hearts cry out asking the Lord for the grace we have need of. Then having done this, may we approach the Easter Vigil and Easter Day with a renewed spring in our hearts – a new blossom of life that only the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ can bring.
The Cross is truly the throne of Mercy. Without the action of Good Friday there could be no Easter Day and all that it brings. We are a people of the Resurrection, but for every Easter there has to be a Calvary. Our faith, our hope and our salvation rest of the events of this week. So, if grace abounds, surely it abounds more abundantly during this Most Holy of weeks.
May we unite ourselves more closely with the crucified and Risen Lord over these days. May the Cross be our protection and blessing, and may the Resurrection be our new life and hope. Make the most of this Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum wherever you may be. You can find details of the key events of this week by clicking here. Let the light and life of Easter as seen in our spring enter into our hearts.