“The Great Week”, Part I

We are now officially into the week that I think is by far the best week in the entire liturgical cycle – Holy Week or “Great Week” as the Eastern Churches name it. Holy Week begins with the great imagery of palms and olive branches (Eastern Church), which were symbolic for victory/triumphant in the ancient world and Jesus riding a colt into Jerusalem, just as Solomon rode David’s mule (Daddy’s car) into Jerusalem. We see the New Davidic King, Jesus the Christ, enter to the words – “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our Father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9-10; cf. Ps 118:26).

In regards to these two verses in the Gospel of Mark, Pope Benedict XVI says in his second book on Jesus of Nazareth, “…Blessed is he who enters in the name of the Lord! had originally formed part of Israel’s pilgrim liturgy used for greeting pilgrims as they entered the city or the Temple. This emerges clearly from the second part of the verse: “We bless you from the house of the LORD.” It was a blessing that the priests addressed and, as it were, bestowed upon the pilgrims as they arrived. But in the meantime the phrase “who enters in the name of the LORD” had acquired Messianic significance. It had become a designation of the one promised by God. So from being a pilgrim blessing, it became praise of Jesus, a greeting to him as the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the one awaited and proclaimed by all the promises.”

Early this week, we also will celebrate the Chrism Mass, which is the blessing and distribution of the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens by the Bishop. These oils will be used at the Easter Vigil and for the other sacraments celebrated in the upcoming year. It’s also the Mass that the Bishop celebrates with his presbyterate (priests) that displays the unity that they share with one another. It is desirable that all priests of the diocese participate, as it is possible. They should receive Holy Communion under both species of bread and wine.

I had never been to a Chrism Mass until last year when we took our entire student body. It was a great Mass and one that I still remember to this day, maybe because I stood for the entire Mass. In all seriousness, we was great seeing all the priests from the both the Latin and Eastern Rites coming together to concelebrate Mass with Bishop Joe Vasquez. It was held at St. William Catholic Church as it will be again this year. The sanctuary is quite large and seeing all our priests was a sight to see.  It’s always great to see the particular church gather as one. This year I will be attending again with two fellow teachers and the first graduating class. It’s a great privilege for me to go again and I am anticipating it as I write about it now.

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