From the Pastor's Desk
Fr. Dan White, S.J.
April 13, 2014
The celebration of Holy Week is the most sacred in our Church. One of the wonderful aspects of this liturgical time is how it is a beautiful tapestry of both ancient and new elements. These days when we proclaim Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are the best example of our living faith tradition.
Much of our liturgy during Holy Week derives from long centuries of practice from various corners of the Church. A prominent role was played by the Church in Jerusalem. A good deal of our knowledge comes from the writings of a 4th century woman, Egeria. She was from Gaul, and either an early woman religious or a wealthy layperson. We do know Egeria had the means and freedom to be on pilgrimage to the Holy Land for three years. She described vividly her experience in a travelogue that has survived to this day. Below is a portion of Egeria’s charming account of the Palm Sunday celebration in Jerusalem:
…the passage from the Gospel is read, where the children, carrying branches and palms, met the Lord, saying: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, and the bishop immediately rises, and all the people with him, and they all go on foot from the top of the Mount of Olives, all the people going before him with hymns and antiphons, answering one to another: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And all the children in the neighbourhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives …
I love the detail of kids sitting on their parents’ shoulders. She writes with curiosity, intelligence and great love. Her descriptions are a treasure trove of information but also wonderful expressions of faith.
As we begin this holiest of weeks, take a moment to revel in our rich faith tradition. We walk in the footsteps of Christ in these days but not alone. We travel with Christians throughout the world, and with that great cloud of witnesses like Egeria who have gone before us on pilgrimage.