Our Presbyteral Council had its monthly meeting today — April 18, the Tuesday of Easter Week.
I enjoyed the entire meeting, as I usually do. It is just good to share the company and good counsel of brother priests. This meeting held a particular pleasure for me because of a conversation we had about our experiences of Holy Week.
At the beginning of each month’s agenda, I have a half-hour to speak with the council about pastoral questions that are on my mind. This month — because our meeting was only two days away from the greatest of Christian feasts — I thought it would be a good time to invite the priests around the table to speak about the high points of the week, about what they most fondly remembered from those holy days.
I know of your affection for our priests and of your desire to support them. For that reason I want to share with you — in no particular order — some of the themes that emerged in the conversation:
1) Without question, gratitude for generous parishioners who worked long hours to prepare the liturgies was high in the awareness of the council. Several were touched by both the desire to praise God and to serve their sisters and brothers that was shown by those who did this work. The men spoke of musicians, lectors, ushers, ministers of hospitality, people who prepared the environment for worship and many others. What I heard my brothers say was that such acts of service do much to strengthen their faith and bring delight to their ministry.
2) Several mentioned the active participation of young people in the devotions and liturgical celebrations of Holy Week. Their presence and engagement bring new vitality to the community, bear witness to the faith of the young church, and encourage us who are older that God continually renews our community. The comments indicated that something special happens in the community when our young people are invited to place their considerable gifts — and their lively faith — at the service of others.
3) The priests thought those who participated at one or another of several celebrations during Holy Week were, in general, pleased with what they experienced. The people had a sense that the several liturgies of the week highlighted different aspects of the Paschal Mystery and, thus, varied in tone and mood.
4) The Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, for example, was an exuberant, bright celebration. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is generally quieter, more contemplative; the Liturgy of Good Friday has its own distinct character.
What pleased many of our councilors was the way in which those who participated in the liturgies conveyed an understanding of those differences and moved nicely with the mood and rhythms of each of the several celebrations.
5) There was an informal consensus at the table around the wish that more people could have enjoyed all of the liturgies of Holy Week. And, there was expressed the hope that those who attended this year would return next year and would — as a saying goes — bring a friend.
If you have read this far, let me extend the exceedingly early invitation to expand your participation in next year’s celebrations of Holy Week in your parish. I think that you won’t be sorry if you do.
I offer the members of our Presbyteral Council thanks for today’s conversation and I thank all of you who contributed to their joy during Holy Week.
Peace to all.