On observing Holy Week


ARE you ready for Holy Week? Are you ready to enter deeply into the mysteries of our faith–the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ? Are your hearts open to the graces of renewed faith and the outpouring of God’s mercy and love in the image of water and blood that flowed out from wounded sides of Jesus?  Are you willing to embrace your own crosses, knowing that it is only by doing this sacrificial act that you become healed and saved?

Are you ready to peer into the empty tomb to discover that Jesus’ body is not there and to realize that what Jesus taught about dying and rising is true? Are you willing to share the news with others that even your own life is a testimony to God’s power of raising us up from any form of death like the loss of good health and youthfulness? Is your life open to all possibilities and promises?

The Holy Week liturgies are not just religious traditions that we observe every year and then we go about our daily businesses afterward. They are meant to heal our troubled minds, to enlighten our hearts, to bring peace into our lives and the world and, most of all, to inspire us to live a more engaging and dynamic Christian faith in our relationships and our responsibilities to one another.

The Holy Week liturgies are all about the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who showed us the way to a meaningful, fulfilling, and hopeful life. It’s about Jesus who showed us the road to eternal life.

And so, come to the Palm or Passion Sunday to glorify God with palms to reenact Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem to prepare for God’s most powerful drama of human suffering and death for the sake of love for all people and the world. Relive this drama as you pray the Stations of the Cross. Let your hearts be moved by the humble act of washing each other’s feet on Holy Thursday. Meditate on the Seven Last Words of Jesus and let them bring you new wisdom in leading your life and the lives of other people. Kiss the Cross and let it heal you from physical and emotional distress.

If you wish to be in stronger solidarity with fellow Christians, come to the Easter Vigil to witness the blessing of new fire and water, to hear again God’s unfolding history of salvation, to stand by new converts, the catechumens, as they get immersed in the baptismal water to express their dying to their old selves and rising to new life in Christ.

On Easter Sunday join your family and friends to celebrate the beauty and the richness of our Christian faith. Let it be a day full of joy and hope in each of us. Let it be a time to think of the many possibilities that we can do to make our lives better, not only as individuals but as citizens of the world.

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of ImmAaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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