I have been remiss in not sharing my thoughts on Holy Week and Easter.
As always, there is no better week to be a priest than Holy Week, even though we are all glad that it is only once a year!
I had two Palm Sunday Masses at the parish where I am in residence, preaching on which crowd do we belong to: the one welcoming Christ into Jerusalem or the crowd the yells out 'Crucify Him!' We all like to think that we're in the first, but do our actions put us in the latter?
Monday of Holy Week found me hearing 4 hours of confessions at a parish pastored by a seminary classmate. We got an hour break for dinner and chatting, but a great tone to set for the start of Holy Week.
Tuesday was the Chrism Mass in the diocese. Prior to the Mass, Archbishop Schnurr has continued Archbishop Pilarczyk's tradition of having dinner with our college seminarians. I remember these dates from my own time in college seminary and how intimidated I always was during this particular dinner. I think it continues, but hopefully the guys enjoyed themselves.
Wednesday, I covered a funeral at the parish in addition to a few other obligations for the parish.
Thursday, I took the day off from the office, availed myself of confession as well, and presided/celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the parish. I focused on Jesus, Priest of the New Covenant for my homily. It was great to preside at this particular liturgy again, as it had been 4 years since last I was up to bat.
Friday morning, I joined in the peculiarly Cincinnati tradition of 'Praying the Steps' up to Immaculata in Mt. Adams. 300 some odd steps lead from the Ohio River to the front door of 'Mary's Church' overlooking downtown Cincinnati. For the last 150 years, the faithful have gathered on Good Friday to pray their way up these steps, imitating Jesus' climb to Calvary and preparing for Easter in their own way. I think it is about as close as anything that we get in the States to a 'pilgrimage,' as we pray one prayer per step: rosary, office and morning prayer, meditations on the penitential psalms, etc. I had to hurry a bit, though, as I was scheduled to hear more confessions, 2.5 hours worth, at the Church. Wow, folks were really disposed to God's grace and mercy on this particular day. It was perfect, weather wise, and the crowds were impressive. The five of us hearing Confessions could have been there all day, really. Alas, I had to depart to make the evening celebration of the Lord's Passion at the same parish I heard confessions on Monday.
Holy Saturday is the day of waiting. It always strikes me as a wierd day, everything comes screeching to a halt and we are forced into silence. I led the prayer vigil at Murder, Inc., that morning, before returning to the recotry to await the Resurrection. The pastor and I had an anticipatory Easter Dinner and he led the celebration of the Great Vigil. Six years, still haven't had that priviledge, but it is great to sit back and enjoy this most wonderful liturgy.
Easter Morning, I had Mass at a Nursing Home, whose residents would have otherwise been deprived of receiving Our Lord that day. Glad to help them out. I crashed three parties afterwards at friends' houses (or relatives of friends), I am very grateful for their hospitality, as I was unable to make it home to Mom and Dad's this year. :(
Easter Monday saw another uniquely Cincinnati tradition: Opening Day! As we have the oldest professional baseball team in the country, the Reds have the unique status as the only team guarenteed to open at home. With a parade, concerts, floats, flyovers, bands, etc; this is another unique Cincinnati event. Alas, we lost the game to the hated St. Louis Cardinals, but it was still great to attend the game. (Strangely enough, with two seminarians from Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, at least they had a good feeling to start the drive back for classes the next day.) A few buddies and I are going tonight, so we are hoping to even the record and get back at those silly little redbirds.
And with that, we're off to the Easter Octave and Season. Applications are finishing up for next year, and we are anticipating a substantial increase in our number of seminarians for this fall. (A good consequence of only ordaining two men to the priesthood.)
A Blessed and Joyous Easter to all!