Potpourri of Popery, Easter 2014 Edition

Happy Easter! The Christian world feels like this: ...because we've just come through Lent, Holy Week, the Sacred Triduum and the Easter Vigil.

I love the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, with the foot-washing and especially the Eucharistic procession to the altar of repose. But the moment of the Triduum that gets me --never fails to turn me into a blubbering idiot-- is the priest's prostration at the foot of the cross after the silent Good Friday procession (well, silent... except for the devastating military drumbeat they do at our parish: it strikes the heart).

Reuters photo, shameless pinched from The Daily Mail

The stripped Church, the tabernacle empty, the mournful songs. Hard to take, but then they're redeemed by the glorious Vigil.

Just a quick potpourri, then, because there's feasting to do.

You can find transcripts of all the Vatican doings for Holy Week here, but you owe yourselves a read of two very fine homilies from Francis -- maybe his best all year.

First, his words to priests at the Chrism Mass, about the joy of the priesthood.
Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be “ours” and to be “complete” (Jn 15:11). I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the “Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones” (Evangelii Gaudium, 288). I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men.  The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more “little” than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1:48). And in that littleness we find our joy. Joy in our littleness!
He goes on to talk about four safeguards of joy for the priest: the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity & obedience) and -- interesting!-- the people he serves:
priestly joy is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy. Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.
And since this joy is one which only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock (for even in the silence of his prayer, the shepherd who worships the Father is with his sheep), it is a “guarded joy”, watched over by the flock itself. Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to “guard” that joy; they are able to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy
RTWT for more on that topic specifically, but it's also just a lovely reflection.

Then there's his Easter Vigil homily, which is about the "personal relationship with Jesus." It's a very simple reflection on the post-Resurrection words of first an angel and then Jesus himself: "Go to Galilee and they will see me." What does it mean to go to Galilee?
Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began!  To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called.  Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets.  He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).
To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory, fearlessly: “do not be afraid”.  To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love
The remainder of the homily is a call to Christians to return to their personal "Galilee."
Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? I need to remind myself, to go back and remember. Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Seek and you will find it! There the Lord is waiting for you. Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy. Do not be afraid, do not fear, return to Galilee! The Gospel is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth. Go back to Galilee, without fear!
  • UK: Perhaps you saw this on my twitter feed earlier this week, but it's too good not to call attention to it again. Damian Thompson finds people who've become Catholic because of Richard Dawkins. (Don't laugh, but I became convinced of the value of chastity during my doubter/atheist phase because of Woody Allen.) Anyway, an excellent Easter story.