Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Here we are in the most Holy Week of the year!!! I hope you had a great Lent, preparing your souls for this moment. I would like to reflect briefly with you each day of this upcoming week.
We begin holy week with the celebration of Palm Sunday this weekend. The Technical name for this Sunday is “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.” If you recollect, we proclaim two Gospels, one of the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem at the beginning of mass, and another, at the regular time, is the passion according to one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, or Luke). These two passages are important as they point us towards Easter. It helps us to meditate on the events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday with our minds desiring the Resurrection of Christ.
On Thursday, as we begin the Triduum, we have the celebration of the Lord’s Last Supper. Although often it is associated with the washing of feet, there are two other elements that are also very important. The washing of feet symbolizes fraternal love, where Christ loves/serves his disciples as his “friends.” On the last supper, we also celebrate the institution of the priesthood, and the institution of the Eucharist. Not too long ago, during Covid we all missed terribly receiving communion. So we have this moment in which Jesus leaves us his Body and Blood, as a way to help us. During Covid, we had to suspend the distribution of the Blood of Christ, but now we are allowed to reinstate it. And what better day than the very day in which Jesus did himself? I urge and encourage you to receive the Blood of Christ as not only desired by him, but as the Church took so long to realize during the Second Vatican Council that everyone should receive it! Then at the end of the celebration, we will have a procession to the Hall where we are invited to keep vigil with Christ until 12am.
Lastly, on Good Friday, when we don’t celebrate mass on that day, we are called to the “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.” This is the service in which we listen to the passion once again and then we can venerate the Cross of Jesus and also our own Cross. Jesus calls us to pick up our own cross if we want to follow him, but it’s not easy at times. On Friday we remember that Christ comes to help us to carry our cross.
I hope this helps you, brothers and sisters, to enter even more deeply into this Holy Week. During the week you can also read meditating on each of the events leading to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I was looking for a way to invite and exhort all of you to be prepared for Holy Week. In my prayers I came across this homily from John Chrysostom on Second Corinthians, which I would like to share with you. As you are being invited, take advantage of inviting others to join us!
The Father sent the Son to exhort men in his name and to take the task of intermediary for mankind; but since after his death he left us, we entered into his ministry, and we exhort you in his name and in his Father's name. Mankind is so precious to his eyes that he gave up his Son, though knowing that he would be killed, and has constituted us apostles for your good. Therefore do not believe that we are inviting you: it is the same Christ, the same Father who implores you through us. What can be given to us by such extraordinary goodness? In front of his countless benefits, we insulted him, but he did not inflict any punishment, instead gave his Son to reconcile us with him. Those who received him did not care in reconciling; on the contrary they condemned him to death.
Then he sent other mediators, and in them is he who implores. What does he ask? Be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20). He does not say: Regain the grace of God, because the cause of the enmity is not in him, but in you; God in fact never generates hate. On the contrary he is sent as mediator, to resolve the case. It is written: God made him to be sin who did not know sin (2 Cor 5:21). Even if Jesus would only have become man, how much should we appreciate that God gave his Son for the salvation of us who insulted him. He did much more, he permitted the offended to be put on the cross in the place of the offenders! He who did not know sin, but was justice itself, God made him to be sin, he tolerated that he was condemned as a sinner, that he would die as cursed: in fact, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree (Gal 3:13). Such death became more atrocious than any other death. He underlines it saying: he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Ph 2: 8). Therefore consider how many benefits you have received from him. It follows, if we love Christ as he should be loved, we would punish ourselves for our sins; not because of the fear of Hell, but of the fear to offend God. This is more terrible: that the Lord with indifference turns away his eyes from us. Let us fear sin after reflecting on these things: because this is the punishment, this is Hell, and this is a great evil. Let us not only fear it, but also flee from it and make an effort to please God: this is to reign, this is life, in this are enclosed innumerable benefits. So we will possess the future kingdom and goods already on the earth. May Heaven grant us to obtain it, by the grace and the benevolence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week I would like to give you an update on some of our seminarians.
Last week I was present at the ceremony presided by Cardinal Sean at the seminary in which four seminarians (Vincenzo Caruso, Rafael Milla, Luis Alberto Piceno, Mateus Martins) were accepted as official candidates to become priests. The technical term is that they were admitted (Admissio) as candidates (Candidacy) to the Holy Orders. The rite was centered on a dialogue between the Cardinal and those four seminarians, who confirmed their willingness to complete their preparation to the priesthood, as a response to the Lord’s call, to spiritual formation in order to become faithful ministers of Christ and of his body which is the Church. The Cardinal then welcomed their intention, blessing them so that they may persevere in their vocation, and, united to Christ the High Priest, become authentic apostles of the Gospel. Below is their picture. You may recognize Rafael and Mateus as our seminarians assigned to our parish.
Other great news is that Gabriel Hanley (the tall, lean seminarian who sings very well) will be ordained transitional deacon on the morning of May 13th at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This would be the last step before the ordination as a priest. During his final year of formation, Gabriel will focus on pastoral and liturgical preparation as he will have a weekend assigned, besides continuing his studies in the seminary. If you have never seen an ordination, or if you have never been at the cathedral, this would be a great opportunity for everyone.
Some of you may have heard, that the Redemptoris Seminary will be hosting their 11th Gala Dinner on April 30th. This year the honorees will be Cardinal Sean and Jack Bassick. It’s a large event with many friends from the seminary that is being reassumed after COVID. If someone is interested, you may call the parish office or visit their website (www.rmsboston.org/galadinner). If someone does purchase tickets, please let us know so that we can try to sit everyone from IC together.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
On these next Sundays, those who are preparing to be baptized on Easter, called the Elect, will have some special rites during Mass called Scrutinies. I would like to explain a bit what these rites are. Part of the text was taken from an article from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
In the Rite of Christian Initiation, the Scrutinies that take place at Mass on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent are intended to help the Elect to “uncover then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect” and “to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good.” (RCIA, 141) They are about the overwhelming grace of God in Christ, who helps us overcome our sinfulness. In other words, the Scrutinies are God’s way of taking a close, loving look at the Elect. God does not scrutinize us (or baptismal candidates) in order to find everything that’s wrong with them, but to celebrate all that is beautiful and good and true in them. Practically speaking, there will be some prayers and imposition of hands over the Elect. One of those prayers are exorcisms. They are not fearful moments of driving out demons (like Hollywood), but grace-filled encounters with the Spirit’s healing touch.
Up to this point in their formation, the Elect have been instructed about the mystery of sin and everyone’s longing to be delivered from sin’s present and future consequences. They have been encouraged to identify the evils, temptations and falsehoods from which they need to be released so that they can live freely for the Kingdom of God. These falsehoods include some of today’s most powerful forces, like materialism, consumerism, sexism, racism, idolatry, malevolence, selfishness, prejudices, addictions, just to name a few. These are the cultural “demons” that can destroy our lives if we let them.
Having done this examination, an exorcism is prayed over the Elect. Through these prayers, falsehoods, blindness and the spirit of evil are renounced so that the individual might be liberated by grace from any obstacles that remain before celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation. The exorcism prayers conclude with a petition that the Elect may be strengthened to continue on their way to the waters of baptism.
One special significance of the Scrutinies is that the readings for Mass on the Sundays these rites are celebrated are taken from Lectionary Cycle A, regardless of which Cycle is currently being read. This is so the Elect may be filled with Christ the Redeemer, who is living water (John 4; Gospel of the Samaritan woman at the well; first scrutiny), the light of the world (John 9; Gospel of the man born blind; second scrutiny), and the resurrection and the life (John 11; Gospel of the raising of Lazarus; third scrutiny). These passages help to teach the Elect about God and the power of baptism. They can also be said to be the transformation that God wants to do in them, namely, bring them from sin to repentance, from thirst to satisfaction; from illness to health; from darkness to light; from death to new life. Jesus encounters three people in these Gospels, and they are changed forever.
But if you have already been baptized and are at a Mass with a Scrutiny, please join in praying for the Elect. And listen to the words of the intercessions and the prayers, and reflect on their meaning for your life, too. Just because you and I are already baptized does not mean we no longer need Jesus to search us and behold us! Let the Scrutinies call you to the living waters, to the light, to new life. Let them call you to a closer walk with Christ.
Father Steven Clemence