Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do you have that palm branch, dad?" "You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him; so we got palm branches today." "Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. "The one Sunday I can't go to church, and Jesus shows up!"
The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday as we enter into Holy Week, and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In order to receive new life, death must happen. Death and resurrection happen in our day-to-day lives.
On Holy Thursday there is a Chrism Mass in Cathedral Churches because it is a solemn observance of Christ's institution of the Eucharist and priesthood. In order to make the opportunity for most priests and laity to attend this Mass, the Bishop may celebrate prior to Holy Week, as we celebrated in our diocese. At this 'Chrism Mass' the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation.
The Holy Thursday liturgy in parish communities is celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown. After the Holy Thursday evening Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. Finally, there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. During Holy Thursday’s institution of Eucharist Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood, and shed for you” and we see on Good Friday that this sacrifice is completed on the cross. He broke himself for us and fed us. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the needy people through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy; break and share.
On Good Friday we start the nine days of the novena for Divine Mercy Sunday. On Good Friday we see Jesus open his heart on the Cross and pour his love and mercy for each one of us. Let us look at the cross and prepare during this week for Easter!
Please welcome our new Janitor Gary Eitrem, born and brought up in Park Falls. I am sure you all know him. He will do great job. Also join me to thank Jim Jirschele for his years of commitment. He had back surgery and is recuperating, please keep him in your prayers. Thank you Jim Jirschele and welcome Gary Eitrem.