Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Holy Week: an opportunity for spiritual growth

Holy Week—the eight days from Passion Sunday to Easter—is the holiest and most solemn time of the church year. It is also an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Holy Week began in the Early Church as the time when candidates for Holy Baptism were taken on retreat (put in seclusion) and given their final, most intimate instruction in the Christian faith. In many places the Passion Narrative in the Gospel according to Matthew was the template each day of the week had its particular readings about the last week of Jesus´ earthly life. In time that period was extended to the forty days of Lent, but the tradition of an intense time of scrutiny and prayer was maintained for many centuries.

Today Holy Week is still an opportunity for study, reading, and contemplation of those might acts by which we were given eternal life and freedom from sin and death. Passion Sunday, also known as Palm Sunday, is a sort of summary of the entire octave, but it is not a substitute. Each day of Holy Week has its theme and its own tenor. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday roughly chronicle the same period in Jesus´ life, including a distressing encounter with Judas as he enters into the treachery that will lead to the Crucifixion. Maundy Thursday remembers the Last Supper and the movement to the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus´ arrest. The stripping of the church of all of its finery and furnishings leads us into Good Friday and the silence of the grave. And then there is Easter …

A special opportunity is being offered by the good work of David Carlisle. An Altar of Repose will be set up in the music-meeting room down the hall from the church. The Reserve Sacrament is taken from the church and placed apart, in this special place, as a sign of the desolation of the death of Jesus. A sign-up roster is being created whereby you may sit for an hour or two, keeping watch with our Lord just as the disciples did so long ago.

Those who take the opportunity to experience Holy Week find their Easter celebration all the more meaningful and illuminating. I invite you experience the depth and breadth of the story of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may know more fully the glory and promise of his resurrection.


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