In a few weeks the Catholic Church will enter the extraordinary time of Holy Week as the penitential season of Lent comes to a close and we celebrate The Sacred Triduum.
During these days, we will focus our attention on the example of humble service and the self-giving of Jesus at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection as well as the sacraments of initiation of those joining our Catholic communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. These ceremonies put us in touch with the core of our faith — the awesome love of God for us, a love “which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved,” (Pope Francis, Lenten Message).
The fullness of the church’s rich liturgical symbolism is celebrated in all these events but, as often happens, we at times need to make some adjustments regarding these symbols. We schedule the blessing of Easter food, for example, on Holy Saturday afternoon at the cathedral. The practice dates back to the times when the Easter Vigil service was held on Holy Saturday morning. Thus the Easter food was blessed with newly blessed holy water from the baptismal font of that morning’s service. Now, we anticipate the holy water blessing. Also, given Alaska’s far north position on the globe and long daylight hours, the darkness that makes the blessing of the new fire at the Easter Vigil so powerful a symbol is not easily had.
Yet, the church’s powerful liturgy of the Paschal Mystery of Christ does not fail to move me. I hope it moves you, too. As we return to the “Alleluias” of Easter, may the Risen Lord Jesus give you a deep joy that sustains you and a love for one another that unites us as one family.
The writer is archbishop of Anchorage.