Prior's Journal: March 21-April 10, 2010

Holy Week Reflections: Mountain roads are great for the view. Sometimes you can go to the same scenic overlook you’ve visited many times before, but it’s a different view with every visit. I think that is often the way it is with Holy Week although of course its far more than simply being a sight seer! Except for Palm Sunday, the weather was certainly more cooperative this year. As people entered into the powerful liturgies of the Triduum they could ponder what they heard and saw with a quiet walk outdoors. The long wait and preparation during lent brought us to the point of sharpened awareness and a deep hunger for the message meant for us this year.

The liturgy of Holy Thursday spoke to us through the emotions of joy and gratitude in the intimate setting of being with the Lord around the table. This carried over into the awesome experience of reflecting on the Lord washing the feast of his disciples. But the image of total service was then extended to the agonizing limit of death on the Cross

What a contrast going from the full-throated joy of the agape meal to the somber and controlled sorrow of the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the Cross of Jesus on Good Friday. Again the power of symbolism allowed us to go beyond the limitations of words. Venerating the cross as the precious instrument of our salvation allowed us to approach with our own full component of sorrow, gratitude, reverence, and commitment.

One can wonder and also hope that those who are currently suffering the hardships of being homeless due to earthquakes, war, and violence might have someone to stand with them as they participate in the Cross of Christ. The cry of desperation from the Cross continues from the time of Jesus to our own times. Who but our Father in heaven hears them, unless we also stand at the foot of the Cross?

The Easter Vigil as always was the high point of the Sacred Triduum. Gathering in the dark to witness the lighting and blessing of the new fire reached its full meaning when the flame was transferred to the Paschal Candle. We followed the Light of Christ into the dark church as countless others have done through the centuries. We walked through history into the present. The entire liturgy brought us back and forth from the past to the present. The Word of God became ever more clear and focused in the person of Christ who has declared again that He would be with us through the power of his Spirit.

The scene was quite familiar and yet as always different due to the passage of time, people’s experiences, and the working of grace. We’re always happy to have a number of retreatants who join the seminarians and monks for these powerful liturgies. When the sun has arisen on Easter morning and everyone has enjoyed an early morning breakfast we know deep down that Easter has truly happened for another year. It’s the same place but the scene is different!

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