May 1 – Third Sunday of Easter
Today I would like to share with you some thoughts about my last time to preside for the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum. The liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are in reality one single liturgy over three days. More recently in parishes with more than one priest, it has become more common to have one of the priests preside for all three days instead of dividing the presiders for the three days. So, for my last time before retiring from parish ministry, I had the privilege to preside for the Sacred Triduum.
Holy Thursday was a step in faith for me. In the past every parish I have been in we selected those to have their foot washed before Holy Thursday, and while we did pre-select two, the Holy Spirit urged me to invite people from the assembly that very evening to come forward for the foot washing. While I got a lot of skeptical feedback from what I was going to do, I had faith in the people of OLM! And boy did you come through! It was so fun and joyful for me to see your response. And when I asked for a young man who might be discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and he came forward, it was truly inspiring to see the assembly’s reaction – enthusiastic applause! I had many people say how moved they were, and one woman came to my office, and hugged and thanked me saying she has never been involved in anything in church before, but came forward when I invited those in the assembly. This Holy Thursday liturgy will rank in one of my best memories!
As you know, I am a Vatican II priest, which simply means that I believe the laity have a voice and active role in the church, and we must not always be confined by rubrics. I bet there was no other church in the Diocese of Joliet that celebrated Holy Thursday the way we did! That brings us to Good Friday. In the past, I always remembered that the priests and clergy held the cross for veneration. Once again, why not the laity? It moved me to tears to see just ordinary men, women, and children take turns holding the cross for veneration. Jesus’ death and resurrection was for ALL of us – no particular class. Thanks to all who held the cross of veneration!
The Easter Vigil is always the highlight of the year, and this year was no exception. The fire, the many scripture readings, baptizing two adults and two children – one a screamer! – then receiving two adults into the Catholic faith and confirming the four adults and giving them the Body and Blood of Christ for their first time – nothing compares! The whole assembly renewing their baptismal promises, plus the beauty of the flowers and music – it was a little bit of heaven on earth!
Have a blessed Easter Season!