We look to journalists and writers to give us their observations about life, their comments and insights. Over the years I particularly enjoyed Andy Rooney from Sixty Minutes, or the former Chronicle reporter Herb Caen with his three dot journalism.
Looking back at Holy Week, I want to step back and reflect on those three days with you. I can easily take faith for granted as a priest and pastor because celebrating faith, charged with being the leader of prayer is what I do. On the other hand I am also an observer of others celebrating their faith. On Holy Thursday people gathered together for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we received the sacred oils, heard the Word of God proclaimed and then set about the business of washing feet. It takes courage to surrender pride and take off that sock, shoe or sandal and come forward to the foot washing places. And when a married couple of many years came up to wash each other’s feet I am moved, or watching a child wash his mother’s feet. Think about it, how much does a mother do for her son or daughter throughout her life, and only much later in life are the roles often reversed and that is humbling too.
We quietly left the church on Thursday evening after adoration and then many of the same parishioners returned Friday evening, Good Friday, God’s day, to hear John’s Passion, venerate the cross and pray for the world. When families, individuals, two or three people came forward there was an awe inspiring reverence not just for the cross, but the realization of all those we could reverence with our respect, love and compassion. I saw people visibly moved as each one came up and offered their gesture of veneration for the cross whether a gentle touch, a kiss, an embrace or taking a moment to kneel before the cross.
After the dismissal we quietly left the church and returned in darkness on Saturday evening for the Easter Vigil to celebrate in word and song our faith and belief in the resurrection and renew the promises others made for us at our Baptisms. We baptized, confirmed and invited five young people to receive Eucharist for the first time. It truly is an organic experience of the faithful gathered. Before we renewed our faith, I serendipitously asked “Are you ready?” and people cried out “yes.” Then, people came to the baptismal font to bless themselves with the Easter water. People sang and celebrated and rejoiced!
I was moved by the large numbers of people who joined in celebrating the Eucharist on Easter Sunday, singing loudly and with full voice: “Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia.” The Lord gives us the gift of a day, every day, let us rejoice and be glad as we enter into this holy season of Easter, 50 days singing and celebrating with full voices. And last but not least I want to express my thanks for all who ministered in front of or behind the scenes to help us pray and sing well. It takes many hands to ensure these celebrations are done thoughtfully, prayerfully and spiritually. Thank you all so very much!!
Easter Blessings, Father Larry Hendel