From time to time, I hear it said that Sunday Mass can be a little boring. After all, it follows more or less the same outline week after week and not much changes. The music at Mass, it is said, can be repetitive and does not really change all that often. The readings at Mass can also be so familiar to the ear that perhaps one might not be as fully engaged as possible. Is there anything one might do to make Sunday Mass more interesting? I think there is, but it is going to require some time on the part of each of us.
In just a few weeks time, we will enter into the holiest week of the year, a week which begins with Palm Sunday and which reaches its highlight on Easter Sunday. The days of Holy Week are unlike any other days of the year, and the liturgies which mark those days are unlike any liturgy at other times of the year. At the same time, I believe these days and these liturgies provide us with new ways of understanding and participating in Sunday Mass at any other time of the year. The great mysteries of salvation celebrated during Holy Week will provide us with a means to enter into Sunday Mass in a different way. The challenge with all of this comes in ensuring that we make the time and take advantage of the opportunity to take part in all of the liturgies of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
If you have never participated in all the liturgies of Holy Week, make a plan to do so now. A good first step would be to locate your parish’s Holy Week schedule. A visit to the parish website or a glance at the weekly bulletin should provide the necessary information. Make sure to mark the days and times on your calendar. At the same time, make sure to set aside the additional time necessary for these liturgies.
In his column this month, Father Joe does a good job of helping us understand these liturgies in greater detail. One of the highlights is the celebration of the sacraments of initiation with our catechumens and candidates at the Easter Vigil. As the catechumens are baptized and confirmed together with the candidates, they also become one with us in the sharing of the Eucharist for the very first time. The great joy of the Easter Vigil gives way to the weeks of mystagogy for the newly-initiated. Mystagogy – an “unpacking” of the meaning of the Easter sacraments – is also a reality for all of us. This is also the core of why it is so important for all of us to take part in the liturgies of Holy Week.
During the course of Holy Week, we recall the washing of feet, gather to receive the gift of the Last Supper, encounter the power of the Cross, hear once again the many ways that God has sought, summoned and saved a chosen and beloved people, and witness to the joy and excitement of our neophytes and our shared belief that Christ is truly risen. All of this and more will be in our hearts and minds as we enter into the celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday and each Sunday that follows. Making the time to enter into Holy Week will help to bring more depth and meaning to each celebration of the Eucharist that follows. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.