This year and every year, Holy Week is a time for us to remember that nothing great is accomplished without suffering. Christian discipleship always has a cost. No Christian can live the Gospel without encountering the cross. During the Sacred Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the Church invites us to remember that sin is real and that only blood can redeem it, but also that God loves us so deeply that He sent His only Son to give himself for our salvation.
In giving his life for us, Jesus Christ calls us to live our lives for others and to share in his work of redemption. Life in Jesus Christ is a call to heroic and self-sacrificing love. If we wish to rise with Christ on Easter, we must share his suffering on Good Friday.
The great Christian apologist and writer, C.S. Lewis, suggested this when he wrote, "Christianity is a thing of unspeakable joy. But it begins not in joy, but in wretchedness, and it does no good to try to get to this joy by bypassing the wretchedness."
Everyday life is a series of routines that can deaden us into self-absorption at work, at school, in our families and also in our lives as Catholics. Even the broken body of Christ on the cross can become a rather regular piety and object of devotion that can fail to inspire us. Thus Holy Week is essential to our lives as Catholics.
Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year. It is a time to awaken ourselves from our usual routines and cast off the distractions of daily life and to re-encounter the crucified and risen Lord.
This Holy Week, listen to the Word of God more attentively. Make room for silent meditation and earnest prayer with the Eucharistic Lord. Venerate the Cross with greater devotion and reverence. Celebrate the new life that Christ has given us on Easter with great joyfulness.
Holy Week is the door that opens our lives to share the sorrow of the crucified Christ, but also to celebrate the resurrection on Easter with a new and "unspeakable joy."
(This editorial originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)