Click to hear Audio Homily
Many of you have been on a seven-day vacation. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage for seven days? The word "pilgrim" comes from the Latin "peregrinus," meaning "foreigner" or "stranger," and in the deepest sense, that is what all Catholics are: a people whose home is not this world, but the Heavenly Jerusalem, toward which our lives move us. Holy Week, then, is not so much a time to take a vacation but to embark on a seven-day pilgrimage to Jerusalem. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus, accompanied by Blessed Mother, disciples of Jesus, and millions of pilgrims around the world. Each of us is invited personally by God to enter the Holy City to celebrate Holy Week--the greatest events of salvation history.
Holy Week officially begins today with the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. In Jerusalem today, thousands of Christians from around the world joyfully march from the town of Bethphage, praying and singing in all languages, down the western slope of the Mount of Olives across the Kidron valley and into the Old City.
On Holy Thursday later this week, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre contains, according to traditions dating back at least to the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christendom: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, known as "Calvary" in Latin and "Golgotha" in Greek, and Jesus's empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. Within the church proper are the last four Stations of the Cross, representing the final episodes of Jesus' Passion. Our Church commemorates Jesus’ washing of the apostle’s feet and accompany Jesus on his last hours prior to his arrest in Gethsemane. In Jerusalem that day at 9 p.m., thousands of Christians will spend a meditative Holy Hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by a candlelight procession to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, traditionally known as the place where Jesus spent the night after his arrest.
On Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion and crucifixion will be remembered at Calvary. In Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims will follow Franciscan friars on the actual Stations of the Cross on Via Dolorosa. Later in the evening, Christ’s funeral will be celebrated at the Basilica of Holy Sepulchre where the deposition of Christ’s body into the tomb will be reenacted.
The climax of the week, great Easter Vigil, will be held on Saturday in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of the resurrection of Our Lord. Inside the dark, ancient basilica in candlelight, the pilgrims will hear the powerful words of the mass, “Dear Friends in Christ, on this most holy night, when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life, the Church invites her children throughout the world to come together in vigil and prayer. This is the Passover of the Lord.”
The pilgrimage to Jerusalem during this Holy Week is a time of prayer and to witness the miraculous signposts God has left for our return to Him. Let us not squander this opportunity. The World around us will be busy going about its daily grind, perhaps oblivious to the miracle of Divine Mercy happening during this coming week. Ask God to bless you with a heart that will be receptive to the treasure chest of graces He desires to shower upon your pilgrimage during Holy Week. The success of your spiritual journey will depend upon your openness, faith, flexibility, and love.
-Fr. Paul Yi
Holy Week Schedule at Ascension/St. Francis, Donaldsonville
Holy Thursday (3/24/16), 7PM at Ascension Church
Good Friday (3/25/16), 6:30PM Way of the Cross at St. Francis, 7PM Good Friday Service
Easter Vigil (3/26/16), 8PM at Ascension Church
Easter Sunday (3/27/16), 8AM at Ascension Church, 10:30AM at St. Francis Church