Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Heart of Christ: A Holy Week Experience

Easter Vigil, JP II
                  Hosanna! This is my Body.  This is my Blood.  Crucify Him!  Alleluia!

 These are but a few of the words and phrases that capture Holy Week.  If you a Catholic you can name the days:  Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil and Easter.  Yet, I wonder more and more, how many  people in the United States and in the two counties I serve understand and recognize the significance of these days and what they tell us about the Heart of Jesus.  Has the routine of life and the commercialization of holidays pushed aside time for reflection and prayer?  I hope my worries are baseless.
Fr. Steve before the opening of the Way of the Cross at Central Point

At both St. John Paul II Catholic Mission in Rutledge and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church we did our best to enter into the Passion of our Lord and celebrate our salvation.  The two days that require the most preparation are Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

St. John Paul II has been doing the living way of the Cross since our arrival in 2011.  Each year this involves many individuals.  The person playing Christ is giving scripture to study.  Practices are held and children are incorporating as soldiers and the women and children of Jerusalem.  This is done where the folks live ending in the hillside pasture surrounded by goats and sheep.  To witness 167 people kneel in the open field in prayer has a power that can not be captured by media.
Jesus Falls the first time
Jesus meets the weeping women and children
He gave up his spirit

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta this year aimed at incorporating both English and Spanish Speakers in their bilingual living way of the cross.  The preparation behind the scene is itself forming a community of believers willing to sacrifice in the name of Jesus.
Women of Jerusalem at BTC
Jesus Falls the second time

The Crucifixion

The Easter Vigils are a once in year liturgy that takes time and preparation.  Above all the symbolism of dark and light, fire and water, is the reality that Jesus conquered death and set us free to have new life.  To witness new believers and old believers recommitment themselves to the resurrected Christ brings huge joy.
New Fire     and
New Water

Blessed Teresa witnessed two young men, ages 14 and 12 be baptized and initiated into the Catholic Church along with one adult be confirmed into the Catholic Faith after years of attending with her husband.  St. John Paul II witnessed one adult be baptized and initiated into the church, another confirmed joining his wife in the faith, and a mother and child receive sacraments together as well as one other infant baptism.  Each individual and family has a story of discovering and rediscovering Jesus more deeply in their life.  All of them have chosen to express this faith in the Catholic way of life.
Baptism of Jose
Baptism of Luis
Profession of Faith of Susan

Yet, the experience I have shared the most, is the Chrism Mass with Bishop Stika.  The week before Holy Week he was hospitalized and came near to death.  Yet, there we was speaking from his heart of the miracles of God.  The theme is that God interrupts us on the journey of life.  He pokes,pleads and prods us into new directions.  Yet, when we let him lead, even onto death, new life will come.  The Sacraments of the anointing, baptism, confirmation, communion, and reconciliation all guide us on the way.  His joy and authentic homily touched my heart and soul.
The group getting ready for baptism
Fr. Neil prepares Shirley
Baptism of Shirley
Baptism of Jadin
Baptism of Joeclyn
Confirmation of Dean

May God interrupt your life and help you discover his personal love for you.  Let his heart become your heart!!
First Communion of Jose
Luis drinks of the Blood of Christ
Sharon joins her family at the table of the Lord