Within one week now we will be entering one of the holiest times of the Christian faith. This starts with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, then moves to his Last Supper with his beloved, then moves into his Crucifixion and lastly, but certainly not least, his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
I was thinking about why this time of year seems like my favorite. Surely Christmas is a beautiful time of year, but there's something about Holy Week that really drives it home for me. The Church enters a period of gladness, followed by sadness, and ultimately an eternal gladness of her Lord's resurrection. There's something almost mystical in the air - almost tangible about this season.
Why am I proud to be Catholic? Surely I am proud to be Catholic any time of the year, whether it be Christmas, Easter, heck even Ordinary Time. ;) But why Holy Week of all times am I especially proud to be Catholic? I believe it has to do with our ancient traditions. It seems like when we start off on Palm Sunday that we are actually there, personally greeting our King with branches in hand and singing familiar hymns. Then we move onto the Chrism Mass where we witness the renewal of priestly vows. We then find ourselves at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper where we partake in that very first Eucharist and witness the washing of the feet. We ourselves are actually there! Then our Lord is taken to Gethsemane by the transfer of the Eucharist to the altar of reposition. We then spend time in quiet adoration adoring our Lord for what He has done for us. We are there with Him!
We then move into Good Friday where the Church mourns the loss of her Savior. Mass is not celebrated, per ancient tradition. We don't greet the ministers with the usual jovial entrance hymn, and then we show our true sinful nature by shouting "Crucify Him!" during the Passion. We walk up to the foot of the cross to adore it and look upon him whom we have pierced. We then leave the church leaving our souls with him in the tomb.
Holy Saturday comes around, and we find ourselves still in the tomb with our Lord. The Church waits for His return. We celebrate the Easter Vigil in which we bless the Holy Fire and the Paschal Candle and process into the dark church, realizing that Christ is our own one, true light. We then listen to salvation history through the Old Testament, and then move onto the New Testament, the culmination of all that has taken place. Thousands of years of biblical history all come down to this one night. We greet our Lord with shouts of "Alleluia!", and welcome new members into the Church. How marvelous!
Easter Sunday is finally here, and all our preparation, both internally and externally comes down to this. Christ is risen from the dead! The Church rejoices, and we greet the risen King with the usual triumphant hymns and renew our baptismal promises.
I had to get that all out. Our Catholic faith is always beautiful, but I am especially proud to be Catholic when Holy Week comes around. Our beautiful traditions shine forth during this season, and they have so much meaning - so much fruit. We partake in all the mysteries that the early Christians themselves took part in. I feel like a happy little kid whenever this season comes around - it's so beautiful!