The most solemn week of the Church year is once again upon us–really, it’s my favorite week of the year.
Mass began with the solemn procession, and yes, we went outside, bearing palm branches and singing “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” The Passion was read (not chanted), there was a brief homily, and the choir sang wonderfully. “Jesus, Remember Me” was the recessional.
Here’s some food for thought as we head into Holy Week:
Every Palm Sunday we enter into the holiest week of the Church’s liturgical year, the time when we are invited to contemplate and partake in what we believe to be the most hidden and awe-inspiring mysteries possible. And what is at the center of these fathomless mysteries? A passion, a Passion of the incarnate God. And even though we call that day “Palm Sunday” because of the traditional procession, its proper name is actually “Passion Sunday”, just as Holy Week is another name for the Week of the Passion.
We habitually say that we will “celebrate the Lord’s Passion”, or “read the Lord’s Passion according to Matthew”, or that “The Lord is now entering into His Passion.” But do we ever reflect sufficiently on this apparent coincidence, that the climax of our redemption through Christ’s suffering should bear the same name as that “passion of love” which is one of the ways in which we could translate the term eros? It is to be expected that many are puzzled as to why exactly it is that suffering should bring about redemption. Our understanding of this mysterious correspondence can be helped along, I think, if we expand the meaning of suffering from simply “undergoing pain” to include “the willing activation of all the passions of the soul,” intended to put love in the place of the beloved’s refusal to love. Christ redeems us because he passionately embraces our rejection of him with a love unto death, and he will not let go of us.