For many of us, our earliest religious memories are those of Holy Week's solemn services and rituals. Despite their solemnity, these recollections are always fascinating, and remind us of what a Christian is--a person who follows the One who has known acclaim, abandonment, defeat, crucifixion, and finally, the silence of the tomb. But even the finality of that tomb could not silence Him.
It is a week that begins with the resurrection of Lazarus, and Palm Sunday, with its passing moments of popular success, waving palms, and shouted hosannas. It continues with the Last Supper, in which Christ revealed the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing that is the Eucharist or Holy Communion. It continues with the drama of a night of prayer ending in the betraying kiss of a friend, and in arrest and humiliation, and seems to end with Good Friday with its torture, its mother's tears, a shameful death, and the frightening silence that followed.
Holy Week, in its yearly and faithful enactment, teaches us that Christ' love for us could not be crushed. The message which He shared could not be stilled. The large stone could not contain Him in the terrible darkness of that tomb. Jesus Christ also rose from the dead. And together with Him, there arose every hope that we have for mercy, strength, perseverance, and everlasting life.
Holy Week is the sacred time during which these memories become present in the liturgies and the sacraments of our chuches, and in the practices and the rituals of our homes, passed down to us by our parents and teachers in the faith from the beginning until our own day. This is the week in which the life-giving events in the saving ministry of Jesus Christ become real for each of us. It is the week during which Christ turns to us in a real way and says to us, "Come and follow me." He invites us to consecrate our own individual pain and suffering in obedi- ence to God, and to share with Him in the great victory over death which He won for us all. To Him may there be glory forever.
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