Nearer my God to thee!

The Holy Week and Easter liturgies are always a strong spiritual time that stretch to the full those who lead and partake in them in equal measure. That is how it should be.

The Easter Vigil is the central liturgical action of the year which releases the energy to the Church in order to continue its salvific work for the next twelve months or so. These liturgies need careful and prayerful preparation. Temptation suggests in the ears of the weak that this is fussiness and OTT; the liturgies are not ours to fiddle with. Liturgies are received from the Universal Church and by fitting oneself, or stretching oneself to fit in that canvas, is the way how we re-live the Paschal Mystery. This mystery cannot be lived on our own terms or opinions, however good they may be.

I had the privilege of being part of a hard working team composed of people of various competences to celebrate the Mysteries of this past Holy Week. From musicians, singers, servers to flower arrangers all play their part in the unfolding of the drama, but these preparations need to be done prayerfully and professionally. This hard working team enabled the people of God in this part of the kingdom to flock to the liturgies and by Easter Sunday to hear people say many positive things amongst which: “It felt that I have really been to Jerusalem” and “This was the best Easter of my life”. Thanks be to God.

Impromptu, unprofessional liturgies will not do and cannot do. If it is in the Liturgy that we come face to face with the Risen Lord, and it is, how can we take it lightly, or how can we take seriously those who accuse others of being slaves of rubrics. To imply that the Holy Spirit does not operate in the official liturgies of the Church is tantamount to blasphemy. To make excuses that some rubrics are too complicated for simple parishes might be shorthand for laziness.

Liturgy needs prayerful people both to administer it and to receive it more fruitfully; it was Aquinas who said that the Mass celebrated by a holy priest is more fruitful (magis fructuosa). When was the last time that you have prayed for the priest that celebrates the liturgy in your Parish? When was the last time you crticised him? Please pray for those who celebrate the liturgies, for those many people who enable their celebration and for all those who partake. It will make a big difference. It will enable us to stretch out to God.

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