Of all the liturgies of the Church Year, the ones that speak to us most dramatically are those of Holy Week. Have you missed waving your palm? How will it feel not to gather on Holy Thursday to witness the procession of oils and spend time at the altar of repose? How our hearts will ache when we cannot kiss the cross on Good Friday! Nor will we experience the thrill of the Easter fire and baptisms. And Sunday morning…Well, we will sing our Alleluias along with those on our computers and TVs.
Although we won’t be in the church building, the grace of the Paschal Mystery (the whole life of Christ) is always available to us. The Mass we see on our screens is part of the liturgy eternally celebrated in heaven. Vatican II stated “In the earthly liturgy, by way of foretaste, we share in that heavenly liturgy.…” All we need to do is insert ourselves into the sacred mysteries, the heavenly liturgy. Whether we’re in a church pew or on a couch in front of a TV we can offer ourselves with Jesus. For example, we might offer all our sacrifices of feeling isolated (or being too close) with the eternal sacrifice of Calvary. My metaphor is really bad, but inserting ourselves in the liturgy is something like jumping into a twirling jump rope. The rope (the Paschal Mystery) is always spinning; it’s an eternal reality of Jesus perpetually offering himself to the Father and interceding for us, along with the Father’s acceptance of that sacrifice. The dying and rising of Jesus (as well as everything else Jesus did during his lifetime) is the Paschal Mystery celebrated and ritualized in every Mass and sacrament. Jump in. Die and rise with Jesus Christ. And receive grace.
Any moment of any day we can spiritually offer ourselves with Christ to the Father—and in turn be accepted by the Father as he accepts his Son. At any moment of any day we can receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You’ve probably been making spiritual Communions as you watch Mass at home. Living the Paschal Mystery, inserting ourselves in the eternal, on-going heavenly banquet, can’t be stopped by a stay-home order. Of course, watching a Mass does not take the place of being with the community; however, it makes us aware of those thousands of Catholics around the world who are deprived of weekly Mass for many reasons. As we feel our own loss, let us remember them.
Make every day of Holy Week holy. Create a prayer space with crucifix and candles, read the Passion Narratives, discuss the Last Supper as you eat dinner on Holy Thursday, pray for those to be baptized now or later in the year, remember Jesus’ Easter message of peace and, above all, keep jumping in to the Paschal Mystery.