Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Holiest Week of the year

Father John J. Lombardi

It is Passion Week-the Sacred Time when we Catholics and Christians recall the Lord Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection. Will you be with the Lord Jesus in a special way this week? Okay, so just what is this week about anyway?

Holy Thursday-is when the Lord Jesus called the Disciples into the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover and the Eucharist. The Passover celebrated God's Liberation of the Jews-Hebrews from Pharaoh and slavery and exile in Egypt. So: remember God's Covenant and that He is always faithful: no matter what you're doubtful, stinkin'-thinking mind might conjure up. And look for your own liberation/freedom from the enslavement to any Pharaoh's in this world (bad or sinful or idolatrous or relationships) or sins or false god's in this world. And also remember that we are in a kinda "exile," away from Paradise-Eden and that if we are faithful to the Lord God He will be faithful to us and we will eventually be with Him in Heaven's-Bliss, which is what the Mass foreshadows and prepares us for.

When Jesus said: "Take this all of you, This My Body…This is My Blood"in the Gospels, He gives us two special, sacred gifts from That Room: -the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Let us treasure Jesus in the Eucharist: it Is really Him-His Body and Blood. Have you noticed a lotta people are looking for a treasure, especially when we are in this current "credit crunch"? Do you realize you are receiving the greatest Treasure in the world daily at the altar-Jesus Christ, Divinity and holy humanity? Some people today say Mass is boring and so forth. Well, keep yourself invested and ingested by slowly, silently repeating the prayers or readings you are hearing within your soul and you will impress them within and immediately or eventually receive great benefit from this practice-and you'll keep focused, versus caving in to distractions. When you receive Holy Communion, are you in a state of Grace to receive Him, Christ-really clean and pure in your life to take into your body His very Body and Blood? Let's pray for those who commit sacrilege: politicians who vote for abortion/the killing of children and show up at the altar; or those who never go to confession or those who lack charity towards others. Let us pray for the conversion of all.

A friend recently asked me: Why doesn't the church teach more spirituality and religious-devotional practices--instead of administration and bureaucratization? We both agreed that be beautiful spirituality is there-here!-within our blessed Church-but we need to recover it and avoid busybodyism and mercantilism and instead especially celebrate the mysticism and Union God offers us in the Eucharist. Clue/queue: read St. John chapter 6-the Eucharistic Discourse--esp. vs. 56, for supreme teachings on Divine Unity with humanity and weary no longer.

The Priesthood: In our Sacred tradition Jesus "ordained" the Apostles at that Last Supper. And those Apostles later ordained other priests and bishops, who ordained others and still others down until our own day. It's a kinda' holy-chain-reaction-the priesthood! Our priests…" are alter Christus, which means, from the Latin "another Christ." The High Priest Jesus speaks thru them at Mass and Reconciliation/Confession: "I forgive you…"and "this is my body". Notice the priest doesn't say This is Jesus' body, or He forgives you. Christ the Priest is in the priest continuing His Sanctification and Redemption of the world: He is Great High Priest forever and never stops Saving Souls-and so continues now in a mystical and marvelous way thru the priesthood. Obviously priest are human and sin-and we have unfortunately seen this in the last few years with the Legionaries of Christ founder , in the Life Teen founder in Arizona and thru religious orders where abuse has occurred.

Thankfully, though, I've met a lotta holy and heroic priests: The "bean priest" from the Netherlands who has dedicated his life to feeding 500 children daily in the slums or Port Au Prince, Haiti. Fr Sunil Rosario in India who bravely rides a motorcycle thru Calcutta (!) to say Mass all over for so many and advocates for persecuted Catholics near his home. Fr George Reid and Fr David Shaum-- neighbors here at The Mountain--who still celebrates Mass well into the eighties. Fr Daniel a Carmelite friends who loves the "desert of prayer" and mystical contemplation…Let us pray and sacrifice for our priests to iconize The Christ more in our world!

Good Friday: This is The Day when He died for us sinners. No greater love a man has than to lay down his life for us. St Teresa of Avila says The Passion is the highest content of meditation. So: pray and memorize the Stations of the Cross-one of Catholicism's greatest inventions-they're not just for Lent anymore. Be with Mary at the foot of the Cross and receive Christ's Most Precious Blood for your own salvation, and also spread that Blood to others-in all your thoughts, words and deeds. In other words, like the Red Cross says: Donate Blood generously. Also think of the St Therese of Liseaux/The Little Flower who said that The Blood is still pouring forth-meaning that we can still receive His Love today. Image yourself under a wondrous Waterfalls of Precious Blood and be cleansed (of filth of sin and its corruptions), renewed (let His Sacred Heart and Blood circulate thru your body-giving you need vigor, oxygen and holy energy), divinized (God-within, and one, with you) and sanctified (made right with God and your neighbor).

So, at so wondrous and severe a Love, have you received Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? One time a junkie-drug-addict asked me, after living a life of drugs, abuse and sin: "Am I really able to be saved by Jesus?" Of course. I immediately felt the ladies divine desire, and also pain at "being convicted" by the Lord's Love and call to holiness. Is love the center of your Religion-or simply customs and laws? Do you give Him your affections, all your desires, thoughts and feelings On this Day the Lord atones for us-takes our place for sins and dies a Bloody Holocaust of sin offering to the Father? He makes and is the Atonement, which, breaking down the word, means: At-One-Ment. Get it? Then: keep it.

In the Mass the Church and priest re-present the Lord's sacred offering of His Sacrifice upon Calvary. The Mass is not a "re-playing" or a "re-enactment" of Jesus' Death-He did that once for all, but rather is a spiritual-supernatural channeling into Jesus Original Death on the Cross in a mystical way and we partaking of His Severe and Sublime Sacrifice. Good Friday is the completion of a "two part Meal, especially of the Jesus Last Supper Words: " Take….My Body…which will be given up for you" That "will be" time and reference is now (as it was and culminated in Good Friday-- in every Mass we go to today.

Holy Saturday: This is the mournful day when the Lord lay in the tomb. So despite the treadmill of culture and pre-mature Easter celebrations be countercultural: wait on this day, in sacred salience

and simplicity, for His Resurrection-with lots of desire and anticipation. Think of all Christ has done for you and all: giving us

The Beatitudes which turned the world upside down and baptized the non-powerful and un-connected and poor and outcast and artistic-instead-of-imperialistic into New Life; He gave us the Kingdom (within us and all around us)-which is God's Reign and Realm of

Eternity and Divine Grace NOW-and fully to appear; He gave us our bodies and souls and taught us how to care for them, especially as persons; He taught us how to live in this passing world with eyes toward the World that will never end; showed us his High Expectations for us and yet always forgave; outreached and protected women in an oft-male dominated and abusing world; manifested the foot washing-service mandate-that service is part of salvation; He died a Fugitive Prince on the Cross.

Also: Anticipate His Light, His magnificence, His Power in the upcoming resurrection (more on that next week!) And remember: No Cross, no Crown…Rejoice!

A little mystical mantra you may wanna pray over is this five-worded one which (you can memorize on the fingers of your hand) and demonstrates many lessons of Passion Week: Impress Him: Passion's caress within: It's not enough just to remember nice stories and recite creeds and re-present rituals. We need depth, within-ness to penetrate and affect our souls and deeper being. The Passion of the Divine Being-Man-Person Jesus is like a caress (the most intimate act of human beings-eh?) and That is the Passion-His, frankly, spilling of His Guts-for us, and we, responding with great love: allowing, accepting and receiving His Love within.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi