What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: April 5, 2007
THE WEEK has begun! The entire plan of salvation is recalled this week as Catholics the world over celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. No other church observes such a profound display of sacramental grace as does our family of Faith.
We here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta began our Holy Week with the commissioning of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. This group of men and women from throughout this local Church were assembled at Christ the King Cathedral for the Vigil Mass of Palm Sunday. They and their spouses then joined me for dinner at my home. I welcome each one of them, and I thank them for their willingness to serve on this important advisory council, which will help me engage in conversation with our people.
Our priests gathered on Tuesday with me to bless and consecrate the sacramental oils that we shall use during this next year. The Chrism Mass brings bishop and priests together in a special moment of fraternal action and love. This Mass always brings a great number of our priests to a moment of renewal and hope in our ministry as the Church’s ordained priests. We all reflect on what the Lord has been able to accomplish in our lives for the life of His Church and for the care of His people. The priestly office carries on the ministry of Jesus Christ Himself as we celebrate the Sacraments, which extend Jesus’ presence in the lives of the people of God. I look forward each year to renewing my commitment to these wonderful men and to the privilege that we share together as Christ’s own Priests of the New Testament.
Holy Thursday commemorates the gift of the Eucharist and the wondrous example of humble service that Christ provides for the entire Church. He is the first servant of the Church, and He allows us to continue caring for one another in His name. The Eucharist remains that unique expression of His love for us all made present and accessible under the signs of bread and wine.
Good Friday recalls the ultimate act of love of Christ and His perfect surrender to the will of His Father. Jesus dies as a falsely accused criminal—a prisoner who was convicted by lies and deceit. The great injustice He endured brought us all God’s mercy. Good Friday is the day when all of us are ransomed by the Blood of the truly innocent Man of God.
The liturgy of Holy Saturday’s Vigil is the reenactment of the Church’s fruitfulness as the baptismal fonts throughout the world give birth to countless thousands of new Catholics who join us around the table of the Lord as our newest sisters and brothers in Faith. This vigil, which begins in darkness, reminds us that the True Light of the World has removed all fear from the hearts of those who believe.
Easter Sunday concludes this week with triumphant songs of joy at the wonder of Christ fully alive and acclaimed as the Father’s beloved Son. What a glorious week it is for those of us who believe. May this Holy Week be a time for all of us to renew our faith, hope, and love in the Christ who has accomplished all of these things for love of us.
Happy Easter, my dearest brothers and sisters in Christ!