Introduction by Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB
From the 1st Sunday of Lent to Holy Thursday, we are asked to recall the life and words of Jesus. Now we walk his last part of the journey. We do not celebrate this week merely to “re-live” the mysteries of the Passion. We celebrate only because we know the ending, and the ending is JOY.
* We re-commit ourselves each day to God, not because it is easy, but because we know the ending.
* We face difficulties, embrace hardships, pain, and even death, not to prove anything and not because we want to, but only because we know the ending.
* We work for justice, we dialogue, we stand for what we know is right, not because we even think we can bring about great change in the world, but simply because we know the journey and we know the ending.
Let us make this journey of our hearts this week, a journey steeped in pain, and sorrow, yet one we embrace with hope, because the ending has been promised and fulfilled. After all, the ending is really a new beginning. Most of all, the ending is JOY, and it is a joy about which, like the very stones of which Jesus speaks in the Palm Sunday Gospel, we can never be silent.
Holy Week at St. Mary Monastery
Beginning with the festive Palm Sunday, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery celebrate with Jesus as he rides into Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday, we will join together – as Jesus and the apostles – in our own Seder meal, with bread, wine and bitter herbs as we remember the Hebrew Passover from slavery.
After dinner, we will go to chapel for the Last Supper Eucharist which includes the ritual washing of the feet (performed by our prioress Sister Sandra and our celebrant, Msgr. Frank Henrickson). This beautiful ritual recalls Jesus’ own washing of the apostles’ feet. We recall his teaching that we are to love and serve one another with the same care and tenderness.
After Communion, the Blessed Sacrament is taken in solemn procession to the Eucharistic Chapel, where the Sisters are invited to pray in adoration as the apostles were asked to pray with Jesus at Gethsemane.
The chapel is stripped of all flowers and decorations. At 11 p.m., the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Chapel, recalling Jesus’ arrest and final suffering. We will maintain silence until the Easter vigil.
Good Friday is a silent day, although we will spend a lot of time in the chapel. At 3 p.m., we commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion with the reading of the Passion and the Veneration of the Cross. We are – as the apostles – lost.
Holy Saturday begins the same way, with many prayers, no conversation, nothing festive.
Then, at 8 p.m. we begin our Easter Vigil, with the lighting of the new fire outdoors. We enter the chapel in new joy, carrying the lighted Paschal Candle, singing Christ our Light.
We rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus! After 40 days, we once again proclaim Alleluia! We sing, we smile, the bells ring and ring! Our Lord is risen!
Blessings on your own journey this week and throughout the Easter season!