Holy Week and Easter Message from Bishop Sanchez

April 3, 2020

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A Holy Week Reflection

In the spring of 1972, I joined a group of my seminarian classmates from Rome, Italy, to participate in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a memorable trip led by a renowned American Jesuit who had done extensive research in the land where Jesus lived and died and rose again. One of the memories that I have of that pilgrimage is when the Jesuit led a group of us into the back room of a neighborhood bakery in Jerusalem to point out a section of ancient bricks that he said was part of the original old wall of the ancient city where Jesus walked.

Such archeological tidbits tended to fascinate me as a young man in his mid-twenties and excited in me a love of history and tradition. Today, almost fifty years later, as I prepare to begin with all of you a celebration of the central mystery of our faith in the Crucified and Risen Lord, I recognize that the mystery that we celebrate is not a mere historical memory. Although we will be separated physically this year, you and I are invited to enter into this mystery in a profound spiritual way—seeking to unite ourselves more closely with Christ in the depths of our heart.

This year we will meditate again on the same Scriptural passages and observe the same ritual actions, all with the goal of hearing the voice of Christ within us, as He speaks with us, heart to heart. Ironically, our weeks of preparation for Holy Week have taken on a strange sacrificial dimension, imposed by force of the circumstances of a pandemic. The word “quarantine” seems almost related to the Spanish word for Lent, which is “Cuaresma.” Hopefully this time has been fruitful in helping to give us a little more time for prayer and meditation. Hopefully it has strengthened our bonds with all those who suffer and with our loved ones.

As we begin the week that is called “Holy,” we pray that the Suffering and Risen Christ will draw us closer to him and deepen the life of the Spirit within us. This year the deacon will sing the Easter Proclamation and we will hear again those comforting words: “O wonder of your humble care for us! O love, O charity beyond all telling.”

Perhaps in the midst of social distancing and sheltering in place, we will find it a little more difficult to take those words to heart. But in the midst of deprivation, we still hold up the glory of the Risen One, “the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ . . . who . . . has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”

May you and your loved ones know the joy of the Risen Christ this year and always!

—Bishop Paul R. Sanchez