Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Holy Week Prayers

Hosanna ----- Save us.  Please!!
My thoughts during this Holy Week before Easter have varied over the years.  Some years, I never got beyond Palm Sunday and its praising of Jesus:  “That’s me and how I’d want to treat Him,” I thought.  Other years (perhaps most of them) the depths of the Passion became my focus --- “I caused that,” I remembered.  I think this year, however, will be different because of my recent prayers and reflections on our country.
This past Palm Sunday I was reminded what the word Hosanna means in Hebrew.  As Jesus passed and they laid down palms, the Jews weren’t shouting “Hail to our King,” or “Hail to our God,” or any other such adoration.  It’s more like they were humbly begging, loudly: “Save us.  Please!!”  (With an emphasis on the “please”)  The Jews were under Roman power.  We’ve read stories of Christians martyred for refusing to bow to the self-proclaimed god, Caesar.  Don’t you imagine that there were Jews facing the same threat?  Don’t you imagine many Jews only saw a future of death and destruction for themselves, with no way out?  Then along came Jesus, a man with great powers.  What will He do?  What CAN He do?  They don’t know, but “looking out for Number One,” they scream out to Him as He passes:  “Hosanna --- Save us.  Please!!”
And then, only a short while later, these same people see that their high priests and the Romans obviously want to kill Jesus (“And us?” they wonder), and so suddenly their cries changed.  To protect Number One – again – they cried out:  “Crucify Him.”
The Jewish individuals, wanting to protect themselves first, sought safety in the crowd.  My thoughts in recent months have been on the trends of the crowd in our culture and the many people focused on saving themselves too --- and I realize that I don’t want to follow that crowd anymore.
My God, my God.  Why have You abandoned Me?  (Ps 22:1)
This Holy Week I shall try to focus on the examples and witness of those who did not follow the crowd.  And all the while I shall be considering my next steps in turning around our culture:  what I can do --- and what I will do, and where shall I find the seeds to begin to sow change.
Reading Prior Lenten Blog Posts:  I feel that over the years I have been writing these posts, God has often given me insights, small bits of wisdom, but it’s so easy to forget, or get confused.  These next few days I shall re-read my prior years’ Lenten thoughts, to see if any may be stepping stones for me on which to advance.
Movies:  These next three days I will again watch my three favorite Lenten movies, and take time to reflect again on the lessons I see in them (and perhaps new ones I missed), and the people there who didn’t follow the crowd.  In I Am David is the prisoner who chooses to die in place of another condemned one, and events in that innocent one’s subsequent life.  The same theme echoes in Saving Private Ryan, where the captain does what he must because “I just want to get home,” and in the end he does go home, his eternal home, as he gives his life for another.  And then we hear from that other one, years later, as he reflects at his savior’s gravesite:  “Did I earn your sacrifice?  Did I lead a good life?”  And as he says those words, I know I’ll look up to the cross on my living room wall, and ask the same questions. 
And then I shall also watch The Passion of the Christ movie.  And I shall cry.
I Thirst For You
On the wall behind the altar, at the foot of the giant suspended Crucifix, are these words:  “I Thirst For You.”  I will be reflecting on those words much during these coming days, and what I might do for Him Who calls.
Holy Thursday Night:  It was perhaps ten or fifteen years ago that I became acutely aware of the most troubling part of Christ’s Passion for me.  It was Holy Thursday night, after the scourging, after the crowds had left.  Jesus was alone, with just the guards.  They crowned Him, mocked Him, and laughed at Him.  What must He have thought?  Does it matter, my pains and sufferings?  Will anyone remember?  They all abandoned me.  Here I am, alone.  Have all I said and done been in vain?  Does anyone care?  Perhaps it’s because I know those would have been my thoughts, that I can attribute them to Him.  Regardless, I was not alive then; there is nothing I could have done then.  But I am alive now ---- and so this Holy Thursday night, all night, I will not leave Him alone in the chapel.  I WILL do something, to offer Him some small consolation, demonstrating that I will not forget: what He said and what He did.  I will speak to Him as I ponder His mental agony; He will not be alone.
Lent is meant as a time of penance AND a time of change.  It is a time for commitment, and like Easter, new beginnings.  On His cross, on His sufferings, we can make a sacred commitment to change our lives.  We can make a start.  And the world may change for our little efforts, in ways beyond our comprehension, for in Him all things are possible.
Save us, Savior of the world, for by Your Cross
and Resurrection, You have set us free.

Do not be anxious.


  1. On Holy Thursday night, I thought he was not yet scourged or crowned, but tried at the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, where after they mocked him, they put him in a prison cell (remember the scene in the Passion of the Christ where he is lowered into a cistern-like prison cell, and Mary his Mother comes and lies on the ground above Him, just to be near to Him?). Only the next day, after daybreak, did they take Him to Pilate and then He was "tried" and scourged, crowned with thorns, and so on.
    So yes, He was alone on Holy Thursday night, in prison after an illegal "trial" by the Jewish leaders, and so we keep Him company as He contemplates the events of the next day, where the Gentiles will then take hold of Him, and He will suffer for our sins as well.
    May you have a blessed evening with Him, suffering and waiting with Him as He prays for the whole world, even for you and I. Forgive us Jesus. We often know not what we do.
    God bless. ~ Fran

  2. I wanted to thank you for your words. You inspired me to stay awake with our Lord last night, and I am so grateful you did. Have a blessed rest of Triduum and a beautiful Easter.

  3. Wow, Fran and KW, I am glad you found some inspiration in my words. I wasn't trying to start a movement or anything, just documenting my thoughts as I usually do.

    As I understand it (confirmed by a question to Catholic Answers), the Church says that public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament must end Holy Thursday night, but "night" is defined in most areas as "the darkness before the next day's dawn," and so while most Churches ended adoration at midnight, my parish had adoration continue in the adoration chapel until 6AM Good Friday morning (sunrise here was officially at 6:10AM). People came and went all night in our chapel, but 4 others were with me the entire night. It was most satisfying to me, and then I went home and slept, up and ready in time for the 2:30 Good Friday service.

    Today, I'll be finishing watching those movies I alluded to, still debating whether to go to the vigil service at a nearby parish where my neighbor (8 months pregnant) will be baptized into the Church. (It is extremely crowded, and I feel it would be imposing to drive myself and take up a space in the parking lot -- and church -- for purely selfish reasons. I may go to the 6A sunrise service tomorrow instead).

    Happy Easter to you, and yours.

  4. I need to document here, that I lied in this post. I said I would watch The Passion and cry. I have just watched I Am David. What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful movie. And even as in Saving Private Ryan, too, I cried. Each time I watch I Am David, I see and hear more things, beautiful things. I'm not sure I've watched a movie with more beauty, oh not beautiful scenery, but beauty within a person, a beauty that you can see and feel in this movie, and you see and feel the beauty and importance of life. It is truly a glorious movie, most fitting for this week.

    What's the point of staying alive? "Because if you're alive you can change things."

    "... and seeing the goodness in people. If you don't do that, you'll never find happiness."