Dear Fellow Parishioners,
I knew that Palm Sunday was coming when I found the rectory fridge crammed with palms. (There isn’t room left for a tub of yogurt or a Diet Pepsi!) Not content with that, we ordered 200 more, to be sure we had enough for anyone who may want them. Blessed palms will be available at all Masses, and thereafter at the rectory entryway until they are gone.
More seriously, the coming celebration of Holy Week and Easter will be the first in three years to be free of nearly all mandatory COVID-related restrictions. Except for a few smaller points, we will return to our traditional celebration of this most sacred week of the year.
Please consult the Holy Week and Easter schedule for all the coming liturgies. There are a few points I’d like to bring to your special attention.
There are extra opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, including Holy Thursday morning, when there will be no Mass. This is for those who prefer a daytime alternative. There will also be expanded Confession times as indicated on the schedule.
Some of us remember the “Easter Duty” which was and is intended as an aid to spiritual growth. The time for the Easter Duty is broadly defined as the First Sunday of Lent (March 6th) to Trinity Sunday (June 12th). The guideline states that every Catholic is to receive Communion worthily (i.e., without mortal sin) during that time. The “Easter Duty” is not restricted to Easter Sunday.
Reconciliation, by its very name, is reciprocal. Therefore I ask your help in making the sacrament available to the largest possible number of people. If you want to go to Confession, please do so at your earliest convenience before Easter. While God is eternal, we are not, and time runs out for us all. For a priest, there are few more difficult or frustrating tasks than sitting in an empty confessional, only to have to turn away people later who all want to make Confessions at the last minute. Aim to come at the beginning, rather than the end, of the Confession period.
“Stabat Mater” is the 13th century hymn to Mary which are the words of the Stations of the Cross. “Stabat Mater” means, “The mother was standing…” In translation, the hymn begins with the familiar words, “At the Cross her station keeping/ Stood the mournful Mother weeping/ Close to Jesus to the last.” Once again, we will have a musical version of the Stations of the Cross, by the 18th century composer Pergolesi as the opening event of our Passion observance on Good Friday. It will be performed by Carol Menke of Cantiamo and Christopher Fritsche, formerly of Chanticleer.
I have asked our Parochial Vicar, Fr. Thomas Stuart, to be the main celebrant at the Easter Vigil, at which several will be baptized, confirmed and received into the Church. It is the most important and complicated liturgy of the Church year. When I was first ordained, my pastor at the time asked me to do the same. Once I accomplished that, I developed a degree of needed liturgical confidence that has served me very well since then.
Please keep our catechumens and candidates in your prayers as they prepare to enter into full communion in the Church. Let us also pray for the people of Ukraine who remind us, in their mortal struggle, that the evil Jesus opposed with his life is still afoot in the world.
Early Easter blessings,
Fr. Bill Donahue