Some thoughts on approaching Holy Week

Some thoughts on approaching Holy Week

Sometimes it is easy to forget that God loves and forgives us because God is love, and that is what love does

Father William Grimm MM, Tokyo
April 15, 2019

On Passion Sunday and Good Friday many, perhaps most, churches have a dramatic presentation of the Gospel depictions of the Passion of Jesus. The congregation is forced to identify with the enemies of Jesus 2,000 years ago by crying out, “Crucify him!”

When I have been the celebrant at those Masses, I have felt relieved that my role exempts me from that call, since the priest gets to play Jesus.

In fact, the community with which I now celebrate does not do that semi-dramatized reading of the Gospels because the page-turning and reading ahead by the congregation to make sure they get their cues right can distract them from actually attending to the proclamation of the Word.

I think this is a good idea. And yet I recognize that something is lost in the congregation not having to shout, “Crucify him!” Even when our particular role in the drama exempts us individually from the shout, we know it is spoken on behalf of all of us, of each of us. And we don’t like it.

Some of that distaste comes from embarrassment at the indignity of shouting in church. Some comes from a reluctance to call for the death of him whom we love. Some comes from a desire to not be one with the cruel crowd. Some of us may even be embarrassed by the fact that they sort of enjoy the exercise.


Pope reminds youth of Jesus’ humility on Palm Sunday

Pope reminds youth of Jesus’ humility on Palm Sunday

‘There is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it,” Holy Father says

On Palm Sunday, Pope Francis warned against the temptation of “triumphalism,” encouraging Catholics to follow Jesus’s way of humility and obedience exemplified in His Passion.

“Joyful acclamations at Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, followed by his humiliation. Festive cries followed by brutal torture. This twofold mystery accompanies our entrance into Holy Week each year,” Pope Francis said in his homily April 14.

The pope prayed for the grace “to follow in faith our Savior’s example of humility, to heed his lesson of patient suffering, and thus to merit a share in his victory over the spirit of evil.”

“Humility does not mean denying reality: Jesus really is the Messiah, truly the King,” Pope Francis said.

Processing through the crowds with palms and olive branches in St. Peter’s Square for the first liturgy of Holy Week, Pope Francis said that Christ responded to the temptation of “triumphalism” in His entrance into Jerusalem by “holding fast to his own way, the way of humility.”

Pope Francis explained that by “triumphalism” he means engaging in “shortcuts and false compromises,” without being “forged in the crucible of the cross.”

“Brothers and sisters, there is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it,” Francis said.

“True triumph involves making room for God and the only way to do that is by stripping oneself, by self-emptying. To remain silent, to pray, to accept humiliation,” he continued.

“Jesus shows us how to face moments of difficulty” with “confident abandonment to the Father and to his saving will, which bestows life and mercy,” the pope explained.

The pope emphasized the importance of “the silence of Jesus” throughout His Passion. “By our silent witness in prayer we give ourselves and others ‘an accounting for the hope that is within,’” he said.

“Our place of safety will be beneath the mantle of the holy Mother of God,” Francis explained. “In the footsteps of Mary, countless holy men and women have followed Jesus on the path of humility and obedience.”

“In this way, triumphalism, destroyed by the abasement of Jesus, was likewise destroyed in the heart of his Mother. Both kept silent,” he said.

Palm Sunday is celebrated as the local “World Youth Day” for Italians. Pope Francis invited the young people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to read his recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Christus vivit.

“In this text each of you can find fruitful cues for your life and your journey of growth in faith and in service to your brothers,” Francis said.

At the conclusion of the liturgy, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the crowd, he then rode through St. Peter’s Square on the popemobile, greeting pilgrims.

“Dear young people, do not be ashamed to show your enthusiasm for Jesus, to shout out that he is alive and that he is your life. Yet at the same time, do not be afraid to follow him on the way of the cross,” Pope Francis said.

He continued, “when you hear that he is asking you to renounce yourselves, to let yourselves be stripped of every security, and to entrust yourselves completely to our Father in heaven, then rejoice and exult! You are on the path of the kingdom of God.”

Thousands flock to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday procession

Thousands flock to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday procession

Holy Week begins with exhortation to ‘connect with Jesus’ Passion’


Thousands of Catholics come from all over the world flocked to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to take part in this year’s Palm Sunday procession, which commemorates the arrival of Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem.

With palm fronds and olive branches in hand, approximately 15,000 pilgrims gathered at the sanctuary of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives to begin their journey by foot to towards the Old City of Jerusalem.

The procession was attended by worshipers from all over the world with large groups hailing from the United States Poland, Germany, and the Philippines. Flags from dozens of countries were seen waving in the wind together with music, dance, and prayer during the procession.

The pilgrimage didn’t end when they entered the Church of Saint Anne in the Old City, as the jubilant singing and dancing carried on until sunset.