Reliving Christ’s Passion, Death, Resurrection Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear friends,

We stand at the threshold of the holiest of weeks, reliving the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Indeed, the Sacred Triduum -- Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday -- comprise a microcosm of our whole life lived in Christ.

To enter as fully as possible into the mysteries of these days is to enter more fully into the mysteries of the life of each one of us. For instance, in the fervent celebration of the days of Holy Week, we can come to have an initial grasp of the mystery of why good people suffer.

Meaning of life unveiled

The meaning of life is unveiled by a fervent and serious celebration of the mysteries of these days.

So, please make every effort to be present for the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the solemn commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

Our churches really should be full (and then some) on these days, because of the gifts of grace available to us at so special a time -- and available in a way that they are not otherwise available.

Easter Vigil

The great Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday night, is the single most important liturgy of the entire Church year. Please God, give us the grace truly to know that, so that our churches might be filled for the great Easter Vigil and so that the devil might be driven away as he tries to convince us that “it’s too long” or that “it ends too late at night.”

The great Easter Vigil is our liturgical embodiment of the triumph of Christ the Victor over the devil and his lies. That triumph is our reason for hope and for faith, and a very powerful way to celebrate that triumph is to be present as it is re-presented in the beautiful rites of the Church.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday -- the Mass of the Lord’s Supper -- is dedicated to the celebration of gratitude for the very special gifts of the Eucharist and Priesthood.

The Chrism Mass, which belongs to the celebration of Holy Thursday, is, for logistical reasons, celebrated in the Diocese of Madison on the preceding Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at St. Maria Goretti Parish. Everyone in the diocese is urged to be present for this beautiful and unique celebration.

The instruments of the bishop’s ministry, the instruments of the priestly ministry -- the Holy Oils of Catechumens and of the Sick as well as Sacred Chrism for Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders -- are solemnly blessed.

Following these blessings at the Chrism Mass, the “place” where the identity of the priest is most clearly unveiled is celebrated -- that is, the Eucharist itself. Priests renew their promises of obedience to the Bishop and of fidelity to the Church. (God’s faithful people renew similar promises when, at the solemn Easter Vigil, they renew their baptismal promises and receive a reminder of their Baptism in the sprinkling of Holy Water.)

Eucharist and the priesthood

Without the priest there is no Eucharist, without the Eucharist there is no Church, and without the Church -- the means by which God has chosen to carry forward the salvific mission of Christ, and his continued presence in the world -- there is no salvation. So our reliance on the Eucharist and the Priesthood is one of the most basic realities of our Christian Faith.

In the celebration of the solemn evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the very institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood are represented in the liturgical rites.

In celebrating the first Mass of the Lord’s Supper, He ordains the Twelve as the first bishops of the Church.

After the supper where they were ordained comes the beautiful narrative of the washing of the feet of the Apostles. This was the Lord Jesus’ first installment of continuing education to His newly-ordained bishops, wherein He taught them that humilsity and unselfish service to one another and to the Church are at the heart of every priestly vocation.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we abstain from the Eucharistic celebration, which re-presents the Cross and Resurrection in their glory and beauty, and we stare, in silence and sobriety and sadness, at the ugliness of the Cross.

The beautiful trappings of the Eucharistic liturgy are set aside, and the bare wood of the Cross is presented for our reflection and adoration. This is the only day in which the Eucharistic celebration, with all of its glory and beauty, is completely excluded.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, at the great Easter Vigil, we receive word of the Resurrection of Christ our Light, who through Baptism scatters the darkness of our hearts and minds.

We greet the arrival of Christ the Light, risen in glory, with the response, “Thanks be to God!” because every day of our lives should be filled with the prayer of thanks that Christ is risen and so there is a Church; there is the Eucharist; there is the priesthood.

The great Easter Vigil reminds us that the suffering and death of the previous two days have yielded to Resurrection victory and glory, and so they always will!

Times of struggle, suffering

In each of our own lives, there are many times of struggle, suffering, death, and the ugliness of sin.

Oftentimes we feel weighed down, as though this or that situation could be the end of us. And yet, at every single one of these moments, hidden behind the gloom and stress, hidden behind those clouds, is the glory of the Resurrection, to which those clouds must give way in the end.

In many ways, our culture, as is always said, has become a culture of death, a culture which exalts ugliness. If we want to be honest about our culture, ugliness is everywhere. And yet, the beauty of the Heart of Christ reigns in every human heart that suffers and dies in Resurrection hope!

No matter what goes on at any present moment, our destiny is always the same: Resurrection glory and victory -- and in that lies the full meaning of every human life.

Please come and drink generously of the waters of life, of the Truth of Christ, of the truth of your life during this Holy Week, and especially during the Sacred Triduum.

Thank you for reading this. God bless each one of you! A very blessed Holy Week and Easter! Praised be Jesus Christ!