Sunday, April 09, 2017

Making Holy Week ‘Holy’ for Ourselves

Outdoor Stations, Good Friday 2006

(Palm Sunday 2017 (A): This homily was given on April 9, 2017 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Palm Sunday 2017]

I won’t give a regular homily this morning (because of the length of the Passion narrative we just heard), but I will ask you to reflect seriously on one very important question:

What will you do to make this Holy Week “holy” for yourself? 

In Hebrew the word for holy literally means “to be set apart”.  And that’s a great definition, because when we say that somebody is “holy,” we’re really saying that they’re different—that they’re “set apart,” in a certain sense, from other people.  We’re saying that they’re more faithful, more loving, more virtuous, and more obedient to God than the average person is.

And that includes the average believing person.

Well, we call this week “Holy Week” for a similar reason.  We call this week “holy” because it’s supposed to be different; because it’s supposed to be “set apart” from the other 51 weeks of the year.

That means for us Christians it’s not supposed to be business as usual for the next 7 days!  This, after all, was the week that our salvation was won for us.  This was the week when God demonstrated in the most powerful way possible how much he loves us.  This was the week that made it possible for us to receive forgiveness for our sins, regardless of how numerous and bad they might be.  This was the week that made heaven possible for us and for every human person.

The more we can break away from our daily routines and consciously enter into the Holy Week experience—in other words, the more we make Holy Week “holy” for ourselves—the more we give God the opportunity to transform our minds and hearts by the power of his saving grace.

So here are a few suggestions on how to do that.  Here’s the Holy Week schedule at St. Pius:

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will have morning Mass, as usual, at 7am.  We will have Eucharistic Adoration all day on Tuesday.  We will have Stations of the Cross at 6:05 on Tuesday after Benediction.  Confessions will be heard during our Wednesday Holy Hour, from 5-6pm.  We will have Morning Prayer Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the regular Mass times.  And, most important, we will have the Liturgies of the Triduum on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be at 7pm on Thursday, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the church hall until 11pm.  On Friday we will have the celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 7pm, and Stations of the Cross twice: once outside at noon (weather permitting), and then at 3pm here in church.  And finally, we will have the first Mass of Easter—the Easter Vigil Liturgy—at 7:30pm on Holy Saturday night.  (Please note: There will be no 5pm Mass next Saturday.)  Masses on Easter Sunday will be at the normal Sunday times: 7, 8:30 and 10:30am.

What will I do to make this Holy Week “holy” for me? 

Make sure you answer that question today for yourself, and adjust your schedule accordingly.  It will be worth it, because when we do in fact make Holy Week holy for ourselves, we give Almighty God the opportunity to make us holy for himself—or at least to make us a little bit holier than we are right now.