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Contents: Volume 2 - The TRIDUUM (B)
- April 1, 2021

 

 

The

Triduum

2021


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller
3. -- Brian Gleeson CP
4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ
5. --(Your reflection can be here!)


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Triduum 2021

Lent 2021 has flown by, much like the entire last year. Although it may be difficult for some, if not many, to participate in these three days of the Triduum as usual, it is important that we realize their significance and do participate as fully as possible. In fact, I propose that it is even more important this year than most because the Triduum comprises the core of what we believe and, even in the midst of what seems to be the doom and gloom of both then and our times, why we should remain hopeful.

The focus of Holy Thursday is Jesus's example to us of service to others by washing the feet of his disciples, but also of service to us by gifting us with the Eucharist. From the evening of Thursday through Good Friday evening, we again gain insight into not only Jesus's determination to do the Father's will and his love for each of us through his suffering, but also of what we see in others along his journey, things such as betrayal, anger, compassion, fear, getting "caught up in the moment", and enlightened courage. No wonder we need some time to "wait" and reflect on the history of God's love and faithfulness during the Vigil and before the glorious Resurrection and continued celebration throughout the next day!

Where is it in this long journey that you find the inner tug to pause? Is it where you see yourself as needing forgiveness or where God's goodness overtakes your sorrow or discouragement? Wherever it is, embrace it as a place of healing for you in today's real time, a time when we all wonder if the "Good Friday" days that fall upon us will actually be transformed into the Easter glory for which we yearn.

Blessings,
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP
Southern Dominican Laity
lanie@leblanc.one

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The Triduum April 1 – 4 2021

It has been a terrifically difficult year for the world. If ever there were a time when faith is tested, hope is challenged, and charity is difficult to embrace, it is this past and current year. It is not just the pandemic that has rattled our peace and calm, has threatened our communities and cultures. There is astir in the world a hard turn toward authoritarianism. It is the new era of the strong man and a wealthy, power crazy ruling elite. It is an era of new robber barons whose wealth during the troubles has grown exponentially. All the while, ordinary families are threatened with economic disaster. Carefully set aside savings, home ownership, and possessions have diminished while debt, especially by credit card, is threatening to swamp personal and family futures. Education has taken a hit demanding urgent remedial efforts to make up time forever lost. Learning occurs most effectively in the age of curiosity and forms the foundation for a life of learning and expansion of knowledge leading to wisdom. What will be the long term affects of this terrible loss?

Even in religious life, there are heated rhetoric and demagoguery pitting conservative and devotional rule abiding with efforts to expand the spiritual life of all persons and to form vibrant interactive and functioning communities. Literalism denies the need to understand historic and faith context in the inspired Word. Some would reduce the presence of God to God acting as attorney general, prosecutor, and vengeful judge. The Mercy, compassion, and unconditional love of God’s living presence among us is rejected in many instances in favor of a rigid administration of regulations formed in canon law and empty theatric ritual. Single issue aspects of the dignity and value of human life have swept away comprehensive dignity and rights to life itself for billions of the world’s citizens. Efforts at saving the unborn has eliminated more comprehensive and essential efforts at saving the lives of the aged, the adolescent, the young adult, the criminal, and those whose gender identification is out of the ordinary. Saving the unborn has morphed into a vote getting charade.

We have begun to experience the devastating effects of climate change brought on by an uncontrolled and expanding burning of fossil-fuels. Through it all, the traditions and values and rituals of Christianity have lost their vitality because of the inability to safely assemble as community. And without the interchange and fellowship of weekly assemblings of faithful followers of the Christ, the impact of the gospel seems to have lost its ability to moor us to truth and decency. As a result, bitter divisions, long simmering in society, erupt into violence. Racism has come out of the shadows and into our political, social, and legal aspects.

What a terrible time to be alive! How frightening for old and young alike! Who can we believe, who can we follow to live in peace, in hope of the future, and with integrity?

Into that comes the beginnings of our Holy Triduum. We begin with Holy Thursday, the Day of the Lord’s supper. It is the celebration of the initiation of Christian priesthood and the institution of the food for our journey, the Eucharistic Communion sacrifice which is the Mass. But it is strange that the gospel at this first part of the three-day liturgy does not contain the institution of the Eucharist as in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John seems to skip that. Instead in this meal gathering he has Jesus on his knees with a basin of water and a towel wrapped around his waist. He behaves as would the lowest slave of a household, completing the humble and degrading work. In those days walking in streets was a matter of dodging the waste of beasts of burden and herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. Sandaled feet became very filthy. As Jesus comes to Peter, Peter objects. But Jesus insists if Peter wants anything to do with Jesus then he must allow Jesus to provide this service. Why did John include this reaction of Peter, leader of the apostles? In this modeling of Christian service, we, like Peter, need to guard against pride in our service that rejects accepting the service of others. Holding leadership and ministerial responsibilities to the faith Community does not eliminate our need to be the beneficiaries of the service of others. Our church is a community of sharing, of learning, of caring, and of loving. If we wish to be a part of that faith community, we must allow the community to serve our needs as well. We cannot reject gaining strength from the experiences of the community.

Jesus commands his apostles: “What I have done you are also to do.” It is the mandate to serve others in even the lowest of tasks. If we look beyond what has been taken away from us in the pandemic, in the political strife, and in the contentions within the church, we discover those persons who have put aside personal concerns for service. The health care workers, the first responders, the educators, the utility workers, the food bank volunteers -- all of these are in fact responding to the mandate of Jesus in John’s gospel. Their service outweighs and saves us from the pilfering powerful, the greedy wealthy, the self-serving liars and charlatans who flaunt religious faith, who rob ordinary families of hope, and who believe that charity begins at home and stays at home. We cannot believe in the face of those persons’ service that the power of the love of God has deserted us. God is present to us, with us, and for us in the service of those people and with us when we serve. That is the nature of the Kingdom of God that Jesus’ work remembered in this Triduum teaches us. The Kingdom of God is established despite the efforts of the chief priests and of the Roman Empire. That establishment takes the life of the Messiah.

That is our mandate as followers of the Christ and children of the almighty, living God who is present with us.

Our liturgy moves to Friday revealing the terror and pain the world uses against us to manipulate us into compliance. The story clearly tells us that even religious leadership can be in error and deny their mandate to serve. Much of religious history speaks of powerful persons who use tenets of faith to control people and events for their own purposes. The truly selfless religious leader does not use condemnation and threats of eternal punishment to further their power. The God of the Christ forgives, extends mercy to those falling on hard times, loves beyond human comprehension. Listen carefully to Jesus’ last words as he dies at the hands of religious failures and autocrats. “Father, forgive them.” There is no thought of revenge in Jesus’ last thoughts.

Then there is silence. It is as though the world has come to an end. There is a quiet, a sort of holy darkness that envelopes us. Do we not, in this past year, not sense how intense is this darkness that envelopes our community and our individual spirits? There is fear, there is hopelessness, there is ruin. But unseen, un-witnessed, there comes a light of such intensity as to move huge rocks. There is a quiet raising of a dead man whose mortal wounds become badges of honor and accomplishment. It is the hour when the Kingdom of God is fully established and history takes a turn that will never be lost, never destroyed, and never lacking in salvation from the ways of the world.

In a sense, Jesus’ prayer on the cross is a message to us. That prayer is psalm 22 whose first verse begins with, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” It goes on to elaborate on the abandonment. But about halfway through that psalm, there is a change, an unexpected change from one so tormented. That change is a change to an understanding of faith in the God who is present to us in the sanctuary. That sanctuary is not a building, not a tabernacle. It is the truth of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is the truth of thousands of years of the Law of Moses. It is the truth of the thousands of years of the Way of the Christ. God is present to us, for us, and – this is amazing and hard to comprehend – with us in all our work. This is the Kingdom of God that resides in our hearts and minds.

We wonder what happened to the Sanhedrin after they finished their work. We know that Pilate was recalled to Rome in disgrace. What happened to the apostles who ran, who denied they were followers of Jesus during his trial and his mockery, who could not walk with him on the walk to Golgotha, who could not find the courage to witness Jesus’ final agony and ultimate death. Where were they when Jesus’ body was given over to Joseph of Arimathea and laid in a new tomb in haste so that religious rituals would be observed.

In these three days, we remember those events nearly two thousand years ago. It is the understanding of Judaism that celebration of historic events of God’s saving presence is not only about the past. In the very remembering, God once again is present as God, saving, freeing, lifting up, adopting as children.

The suffering we currently experience, the terror we now shelter ourselves from, the hatred that divides us – all these death dealing experiences have been taken by the Messiah, the Christ, and lifted up into the creation of the Kingdom of God. What makes our suffering fruitful is what Jesus modeled for us in his ministry of preaching and healing, in his entrance into Jerusalem, in his cleansing of the temple of its liars and charlatans, in his bogus trial and condemnation, in his being mocked, in his terrible walk on cobbled streets surrounded by jeering crowds, in his being fastened on the wood of a cross, in his prayers on the cross, and in his death and burial. In all his achievements in his confronting liars and self-serving religious leadership, in his terrible sufferings, and in his isolation from those who followed him – in all his pain and suffering he created the Kingdom of God. In those early hours of the first day of the week, his sacrifice, his suffering, his efforts, his integrity, his truth, and his way were confirmed with life. That was a renewed and resurrected life. That rising did not take away the marks of his suffering and pain. Instead, those wounds, those struggles, those terrors became glorious light that gives hope, consolation, and a pathway for all of us.

If we commit to his way: if we embrace the truth of his preaching, healing, and struggles: if we search for and clutch to our hearts the life, he extends to us, then we too will experience Easter. It is the time of rebirth: it is the time of resurrection from our beds and pathways of conflict, pain, suffering, and even joy. The Kingdom is established. This is the day the Lord has made! Let us be glad and rejoice in it. Let it be yet again a starting point for building up that Kingdom by our love for others and for the creation which cradles us. May it be so.

Most Happy Easter, rebirth and resurrection to all.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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Vigil and Easter Day:

THE VIGIL: EASTER LIGHT, JOY, HOPE, AND CHALLENGE

When the Easter Vigil starts it tends to be dark, except for the light coming from the fire burning at the entrance to the church. One year a little girl grasped her mother’s hand tightly, looked up, and said: ‘Mommy, why is it so dark?’ Her mother thought for a while and then she answered: ‘To remind us what the world would have been like if Jesus had not been raised from the dead.’

Just two days ago you and I were remembering the sufferings and death of Jesus our Saviour. As we looked at his crucified body with sorrow, love, and gratitude, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature that led his enemies to torture and humiliate him, before killing him on the rough wood of a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went completely out of control.

Good Friday found us wondering over and over again: Why was this good man, this innocent man, this man with so much humanity and compassion, so much honesty and integrity, so much warmth and generosity, violated, humiliated, tortured, and murdered? Why was he?

The motives which led his enemies to torture and murder him are those which have always influenced human beings to hurt and harm one another - arrogance and pride, power-seeking and ambition, envy and jealousy, anger and fear, hatred and revenge. Good Friday reminded us of the dark side of human nature and its associated evils - poverty, ignorance, crime, malnutrition, hunger, and disease.

Fortunately, however, this is not the whole truth. Far from it! For if we experience so much evil, we also experience an abundance of goodness. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. In a word, there is goodness everywhere, much more than evil. The influence of the Risen Christ, which is to say the light of Easter, keeps shining upon us.

Yet there can be no doubt that one epic struggle goes on between good and evil. It goes on in the material universe, in human societies, and inside our personalities. Evil even seems stronger than good. But it has not yet finally triumphed. Good is remarkably resilient. Though too often it seems to be in danger of being crushed, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Independent India, are so true: 'When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.' Words from our Easter Vigil Service express the same truth in an even more appealing way: 'The sanctifying power of this [Easter] night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners. It drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.'

Our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that evil will not have the last say ether in us or our world. It leaves us in no doubt about the ultimate triumph of goodness, not only in ourselves but everywhere around us.

Jesus was buried at sunset, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But although his Jewish and Roman enemies killed him, they could not annihilate him. For on the third day after, the sun came up on him alive and powerful, influential and victorious. It will be the same for us who celebrate Easter by renouncing and rejecting anything and everything dark and evil in our lives, and by renewing our determination to always walk with Jesus in his light. That’s why we are renewing our baptismal promises tonight and renewing them with conviction, commitment, and enthusiasm.

Remember! We are turning our backs on evil and sin in every shape and form, and we are promising to keep following Jesus in a life of goodness and love, one shaped by his shining example, and one sustained by his powerful influence and presence.

So, we ask ourselves these questions:

Do you renounce sin, to live in the freedom of the children of God?
Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin? ETC.
 



EASTER DAY: RISING WITH JESUS TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

When my father died quite suddenly when I was in Belgium studying, my mother wrote that she was devastated. and that her life would never be, and could never be, the same again. All of us, facing the death of someone we love face a horrible and indescribable loss, along with feelings of absence and emptiness. One sometimes hears grieving people say: ‘I’m simply gutted.’

For some persons, their feelings of loss are so great that they deny what has happened. They think they hear the footsteps of their loved one on the path outside or coming down the stairs, or turning the key in the front door.

When Mary Magdalen goes to visit the tomb of Jesus, it’s very early on Sunday, the first day of the week. It’s still dark but there’s enough light to see that the stone has already been moved from the entrance to the tomb. But she is not in any kind of denial. She expects to come face to face with death. Not for a moment does she kid herself that Jesus is no longer dead. Instead, surely persons unknown have stolen and hidden his body, and will not let him rest in peace.

She talks with Simon Peter and the anonymous Beloved Disciple about her experience. Together they race to the tomb. When Peter enters the tomb, he sees at first only the burial clothes. But when Jesus’ favorite disciple enters the tomb, he sees more. He sees what faith sees. Jesus is not dead but alive. Maybe he has figured out, that if people had stolen the body, they would not have taken the trouble to roll up the burial clothes. More likely, it’s simply his belief in the greatness, goodness, and uniqueness of Jesus that leaves him convinced, that God would not and could not leave him for dead. In any case, we are told simply that ‘he saw and he believed’.

What we are celebrating today in the resurrection, then, is first of all the power of God’s liberating love for his dear Son. His resurrection is God the Father’s answer to all those wicked men who murdered Jesus on the cross and expected him to stay dead and buried forever.

In raising Jesus from the dead, God raised and revived every story Jesus told, every truth Jesus taught, every value Jesus stood for, every choice Jesus made, and every purpose he pursued. Everything about him and his history was given new life, new meaning, and new relevance.

So, the resurrection of Jesus is not a hysterical invention by people who refused to accept the death of their Leader. After all, his first followers were simply not expecting it. So much so that when they caught sight of him alive again, they were gobsmacked. They could hardly believe their eyes and ears. But they had to accept the plain fact that there was Jesus, raised in his body, alive and well before their very eyes, and that all this had happened through the unbounded power of God’s love for his Son.

What we are also celebrating today is our resurrection from the dead, our resurrection from deadly deeds, or at least our resurrection from anything less than the best, the most honest, the most authentic, the most generous, and the most loving ways of living our lives. We are recognizing that not only is Jesus Christ alive now in himself, but he is also alive in us - alive in us through the presence, power, and action of the Holy Spirit, his second self.

After all, it was through the Spirit within him that Jesus ‘went about doing good and curing all who were in the power of [evil]’ (Acts 10:38). It is through that same Spirit, coming from our Risen Lord, that you and I can hope to think like him, act like him, live like him, die like him, and rise like him.

So, here and now on this Easter Day, let us encourage one another to respond to the power of the Holy Spirit among us by renewing our baptismal promises, and renewing them sincerely and enthusiastically. Let us reject darkness, evil, and sin in every shape and form. Let us promise to follow Jesus in a life of light, goodness, and love, a life shaped by his example. So, with trust in the mighty Spirit of Jesus within us and among us, let us here and now renew our Baptismal Promises, and renew them loudly and sincerely! So,

Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin? ETC.

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

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Year A,B,C: Easter Sunday (Day).

 

“It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.”

 

If you happen to be a Liverpool supporter of a certain age, you will know that we have had many great strikers. Mohammed Salah is just the latest in the long line of great names – Luis Suarez, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, John Aldridge, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ian St John … But of all of them, the greatest, I believe, by common consent was Ian Rush. His record is well known:
Our all-time best goal scorer - 346 goals in all competitions
25 of them against Everton, including 4 in one game.
When he signed for us at age 18, he cost £300,000 from Chester – then a record fee for a teenager. (Prices have gone up a bit since then.)

And he had it all – the original fox in the box, the reactions of a rattlesnake, the pace over the first five yards, the first touch of an angel, the shot of a sniper rifle, the speed on the turn of a stockbroker. But none of those things made him unique. That quality of uniqueness was something you only ever actually saw live – it never made it onto “Match of the Day”. In fact, you hardly ever saw it on the television screen, especially with the fixed cameras of the 1980s tracking only the ball. So most of his fans probably never actually saw the truly unique thing which set him apart – he was the greatest chaser of lost causes ever to wear our shirt. Any ball forward into a corner, he would chase down, even when he could not possibly catch it before it went out of play. Any of our defenders caught in possession by the opposition knew that “Rushie” would come short to help him out; any misplaced pass, he would turn and chase down, rather than berate the mistake-maker. Any opposition defenders trying to play out in triangles, he would shuttle-run to disrupt. Any time, any where, he would spend himself, even in the most lost of our causes. And just once in a while, the near impossible would occur, the lost cause would materialise, he would reach a ball he had no right to win, we would score a goal we never deserved and it would make all the difference. In the last minute of every game, when we needed a goal, he was always the one still showing for the ball, still running into the box, still making space for other players, still chasing the ball to the byline. That, I think, is why he is still loved by the Kop, even more than all of our other great goal scorers.

So in football, so in Life. And if ever it may fairly be said that there was a moment when the Christian church needed a goal, then it was on the morning of that Sunday after Good Friday. The first day of the week. A day when the Lord’s body had been dead and in the tomb for two days and – one has to think – beginning to smell.

So it is, to say the least, instructive, to see just who it is still chasing the lost cause, who still believes, who is still running up the hill while it was still dark on the first day of the week. Hear again that bit of the gospel:
“It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.”

Mary Magdalene has many titles in the Church:
the first preacher
the first apostle
the apostle to the apostles.
But I like to think of her as the Ian Rush of the Church, the other, perhaps even greater, patron saint of lost causes.

It is said that, to this day, the thing that Liverpool players fear the most is coming into the boot-room after a defeat and seeing the look on Ian Rush’s face.

Can you imagine us going home at the end of life, having perhaps done less than our best, and seeing the look on Mary Magdalene’s face?

Let pray that we too this Easter Sunday may be prepared to find the presence and the goodness of God in the world even, perhaps especially, at those moments when the cause seems most lost.

Paul O'Reilly, SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.


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