Important letter from Fr. Tom – April 5
In recent weeks I’ve used this letter to keep you updated regarding the impact of the coronavirus on church matters. The one important matter for this week is that the palms will be blessed on Palm Sunday, but they will not be available for distribution until Masses begin again.
In this letter, I’d like to speak about the liturgies of Holy Week, including the changes that will take place this year due to unusual circumstances. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday parish liturgies will be recorded and posted on YouTube each of the days. You can access our YouTube channel from our parish website (olvfpny.org).
On Passion/Palm Sunday we recall Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when He is met with “hosannas” and praises. Then we also hear those “hosannas” changed to cries of “Crucify him, crucify him,” when the Passion is read. How quickly the tide changes. May we pray to remain faithful to proclaiming Jesus as Lord even as those around us reject Him and deride Him.
This year, the palms will be blessed using a simple form without a procession. The palms will be distributed at a later date. The rest of the Mass, including the reading of the Passion, will continue as usual.
Monday/Tues./Wednesday of Holy Week
During these days of Holy Week, we learn from the negative example of Judas Iscariot. Judas is an intimate friend of the Lord, who, despite his closeness, betrays Jesus with a kiss and who though he repents, fails to seek forgiveness and subsequently he despairs.
May we be reminded, through the example of Judas Iscariot, that faith is always tentative and needs to be safeguarded from the temptations of the world. And perhaps equally importantly we need to know that we have a place to go when we do sin – to Confession – the Sacrament of God’s Mercy and Love.
On the morning of Holy Thursday, Bishop Barres will celebrate the Chrism Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral. Under usual circumstances, Fr. Sullivan and I would attend that Mass in order to renew our priestly commitment and to receive the Holy Oils to be used in our parish during the year. This year we will view the Chrism Mass on the Catholic Faith Network and pick up the Holy Oils when they are made available.
In the evening, we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Two special features of this Mass will be absent this year. Usually, there would be the reenactment of the Washing of Feet and a solemn procession to the Altar of Repose (in the lower church). Neither will take place this year – but Mass will happen!
The Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion is celebrated on Good Friday and is unique in the form it takes. Mass is not celebrated. This liturgy starts with the liturgy of the Word, including the reading of the Passion according to St. John. The homily is followed by Solemn Intercessions. This year there will be intercessions added regarding the pandemic and those affected by it. This is followed by the Veneration of the Cross – a profound moment of uniting our own sufferings to those of Jesus on the Cross.
Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday
I will write about these Sacred Days in my letter for next week – Easter Sunday.
Prayers continue for your continued good health and for the healing of the sick.!
Praised be the name of Jesus Christ now and forever!