Palm Sunday at Holy Family in Concord

Photo: DupontMediaWorld

At the 9:30 and 11:30 Masses on Palm Sunday at Holy Family, the gospel of the Passion was proclaimed by a chorus of 22 high school students, two of our regular lectors and me.  We divided the narration in two parts which the lectors shared.  The students proclaimed the group and individual speeches and I took the part of Jesus.  Above, you'll see the proclaimers in the setting of the larger assembly and below a close-up of the group.

Photo: DupontMediaWorld

At the moment of Christ's death, the readers all turned towards the Crucifix over our sanctuary while the assembly knelt.

Photo: DupontMediaWorld

It was a blessing for me to work and rehearse with this group and I know it was a blessing for our community, young and old, to hear this particular gospel so compellingly proclaimed at the beginning of Holy Week.  I wish now that I had recorded it- I'll remember to do that next year! 

Photo: DupontMediaWorld


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 3/31

Holy Week is all about your mercy, Lord:
   about how much I need it,
   how my heart longs for your pardon
   and the peace you make with all of us,
      time and time again...

Holy Week is all about your love, Lord:
   about how much I need it,
   how I take it so for granted,
   how your kindness mends and heals us,
      time and time again...  

Holy Week is all about new life, Lord:
   about how much I need it,
   how I thirst for new beginnings
   and for you to rise in each of us,
      time and time again...

Help me walk this holy week with you, Lord:
   to your mercy, love and life,
   to Easter's hope and joy,
   to the promise of the peace you offer,
      time and time again...


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Monday Morning Offering 3/30

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God! 

And so it has begun, Lord:
the Week we call Holy...

I've read how theologians debate 
whether time itself, or any unit of time, 
can actually be or become holy -
but I'll leave that to the scholars, Lord,
and simply wonder here
about my being holy,
my growing in holiness
in the week ahead... 

(Why am I afraid of the word - holy?
I want to be strong, healthy, wise, just,
honest, fair, loving, prayerful, faithful,
kind, forgiving and compassionate - 
why do I shy away from wanting to be holy?
Could it be I just don't understand
what it means to be holy?
Help me understand that, Lord,

and help me desire it...)

One thing I know, Lord - for certain:
I could be a whole lot holier 
than I am right now… 

But just how holy do I want to be?

I want to be holy enough
to stand before you
without shame or embarrassment…

I want to be holy enough
to know that I've helped the poor
- and generously so…

I want to be holy enough
to know that my intentions and desires,
my dreams and schemes,
are just, pure and honest...

I want to be holy enough
to love you with a heart cleansed
of selfishness and pride…

I want to be holy enough
to recognize my lack of holiness
and to ask the help of your grace
whenever and wherever I need it...

Just four days left* in Lent, Lord: 
four more chances to be holy 
in this season of praying, fasting
and serving the needs of others...

I have four days to be more faithful to prayer,
morning or night or in between, 
or whenever you and I can sit down 
and just have a chat, one-on-one, 
just the two of us, Lord... 

I have four days to deny myself 
some taste or sip, some pleasure or toy 
and to discover the hunger self-denial provides me,
that empty space in which to wonder 
how I might better feed and fill the void... 

I have four days to care for the poor, 
to give to the poor, to be with the poor, 
to work for the poor,
to discover how rich I am and learn to share
with those whose needs are so much greater
than my own...

Four days left in Lent, Lord, 
and then three days of prayer so holy 
they are but one-day-in-three: 
the Triduum:
Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter 

Three days inviting me
to enter into the mystery of all mysteries, 
the mystery of Jesus... 

Three days to remember with the whole Church 
how Jesus suffered, died, was buried and rose 
that we might have life and have it to the full... 

Three days that will not come 'round again 
until a year from now, 
three days that promise
more than I could ever hope to promise in return... 

So, I ask you this week, Lord,
to make me at least a little more holy
than I have been...

I offer you this week
and ask you to come to me in prayer:
to fill my loneliness with your presence, 
to draw me out of my self-contentment,
and to lead me to serve the needs of any
who wait for my assistance... 

I offer you this holy week 
and pray you keep me faithful to all it offers: 
the promise of a life, a depth, a gift of peace 
greater than all my hurts and fears... 

I offer you this week, Lord:
make me holy, day by day...

And open my heart to all 
whose paths cross mine in these holy days: 
together, help us come into your presence 
and be made one in your peace...


*Lent ends at sundown on Thursday of Holy Week. With the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Triduum begins. The Triduum ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday night.

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Simply Living Lent: HOLY WEEK

Face of the Savior of the World by Noehani Harsono

Simply Living Lent – Holy Week


Dear God,

Every dawn begins a holy day, a new beginning,
a new chapter in the story of your love for us.

Every year we enter Holy Week,
a solemn, joyful time to remember and celebrate
the love you poured out for us
in the suffering, dying and rising of Jesus.

Only you, Lord,
know how you want to teach and touch me this week...

Open my mind and heart
to what you have in store for me in these holy days…

Open my time, my schedule, my calendar
to spending time with you in prayer.

Make my day free for you
that you might free me
for the day you have in store for me...

Draw me to the church’s prayer,
especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday...

You have opened your heart for me, Lord,
help me to open my days and nights this week to you...

In this time of special prayer, I make this request of you...

And please keep close to your heart those I love and care for,
whose names I lift up to you now...

Lord, in your love and mercy, hear my prayer.

Our Father...


- Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence:
no meat, only one full meal, no eating between meals.
It is an ancient custom to continue this fast into Holy Saturday.

- In many parishes, the collection on Holy Thursday is for the poor
and on Good Friday for the poor of the Holy Land
and the upkeep of shrines there. May our hearts be generous!

- If you have not yet reached out to the poor during Lent,
you may want to do so during the holy days of this week.

- If your parish distributed Lenten sacrifice boxes or rice bowls,
be sure to return them and their contents to the church this week or next.

- Find out the times of the Holy Week liturgies in your parish
and plan now to participate in them.


Lord, on the night before you died
you prayed alone in the garden
and offered your Father
the burdens of your mind, heart and soul.

Hear the prayers of all your sons and daughters
who share their burdens and fears with you this night.

Be with those who are afraid to be alone
with their memories and fears.

Stand guard with those who serve and protect us,
and with all who are in harm’s way this night.

Help us to trust that tomorrow will dawn
with new offers of your grace and presence.

Give us deep sleep and help us to rest this night in your arms
that we might be prepared to enter the spirit of these holy days
and come to the joy and peace of Easter.

Hail Mary...


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Homily for March 29

Image source

Homily for Palm Sunday
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Although it's at the very heart of our faith,
the story of the suffering and death of Jesus
is recounted in its entirety only twice a year,
and then in the same week:
on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday.

We encounter Jesus in this story
as in no other passage from the gospels.
Is he ever closer to us in our humanity:
than in his being betrayed, rejected and abandoned?
than in his physical and emotional suffering;
than in the naked loneliness of his last hours? 
than in the prayer he speaks to his Father
from the depths of his soul…  
from the height of the Cross?
than in his death: his final surrender to mortality?

If we do not come to meet Jesus in his suffering,
how can we hope to recognize him
when he comes to meet us in ours?

If we do not come to meet Jesus in his suffering,
how can we hope to recognize him
when he comes to meet us in ours?

Listen again to some of Jesus’ own words,
where he bares his heart to us and invites us to enter it. 

I say to you, one of you will betray me...

Take and eat: this is my body, given for you…
Take and drink: this is my blood, poured out for you…

You will deny me three times...

My soul is sorrowful even to death:
watch with me for an hour…

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak...

My God, my God: why have you forsaken me?

And recall the responses
of those who were with Jesus in those last hours,
those whose words and deeds 
might sometimes be our own. 

Betray you, Lord?  Certainly not me!

I do not know the man.
A cock crowed…
Peter went out and wept.

Crucify him! Crucify him!

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd…

They crowned him with thorns,
mocked him, stripped him,
struck him, spat upon him…

Truly this man was the Son of God! 

Any of these words, these phrases, these images
would be hearty food for prayer and reflection 
in the week ahead.

Which of these words
(or others you heard in the scriptures today)
draw you closer to the humanity of Jesus
and thus to the doorway to his divinity?

We have entered the Week we call Holy
when Christians around the world will pause
to remember, to celebrate and to meet Jesus
in his suffering, in his dying and in his rising.

May the story of his Passion 
refresh and restore our faith
in his love poured out so generously for us.

May the words and sacrifice of Jesus, 
embedded in our hearts,
lead us to meet him in the peace and the joy of Easter.


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Pause for Prayer: PALM SUNDAY 3/29

Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes

in the name of the Lord,

the King of Israel.

Hosanna in the highest!
Though our worship today will lead to the gospel of the suffering and death of Christ echoing in our hearts, it will begin with blessing and waving palm branches and singing Hosannas.  Even here, on the first day of Holy Week, there's room for joy in Lent!  Here's a 16th century rendition of Hosanna to the Son of David by Orlando Gibbons, sung by Chanticleer.

Let's pause for prayer on this Palm Sunday...


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 3/28

Christ of St. John of the Cross - Dali

My favorite Eucharistic Prayer is no longer found in the book we use at the altar but its beautiful language and rich Paschal theology still stir my heart. From a presider's point of view, this text seemed to pray itself, so easily did it lend itself to proclamation.  And this was a perfect prayer for Palm Sunday, following the proclamation of the gospel of Christ's suffering and death.  I commend these excerpts for your prayer and reflection on this Palm Sunday weekend...

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere
to give you thanks and praise.

You never cease to call us to a new and more abundant life.
God of love and mercy, you are always ready to forgive;
we are sinners, and you invite us to trust in your mercy.

Time and time again we broke your covenant,
but you did not abandon us.
Instead, through your Son, Jesus our Lord,
you bound yourself even more closely to the human family
by a bond that can never be broken.

Now is the time for your people to turn back to you
and to be renewed in Christ your Son,
a time of grace and reconciliation.

You invite us to serve the family of humankind
by opening our hearts to the fullness of your Holy Spirit...

Father, from the beginning of time
you have always done what is good for us
so that we may be holy as you are holy...

When we were lost and could not find the way to you,
you loved us more than ever:
Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin,
gave himself into our hands 
and was nailed to a cross.

Yet before he stretched out his arms
between heaven and earth,
in the everlasting sign of your covenant,
he desired to celebrate the Paschal feast
in the company of his disciples.

While they were at supper,
he took bread and gave you thanks and praise.
He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my Body which will be given up for you.

At the end of the meal,
knowing that he was to reconcile all things in himself
by the blood of his cross,
he took the cup, filled with wine.

Again he gave you thanks,
handed the cup to his friends, and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me..

When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup 
we proclaim your death, O Lord, 
until you come in glory.

Sacrament of the Last Supper - Dali
We do this in memory of Jesus Christ,
our Passover and our lasting peace.
We celebrate his death and resurrection
and look for the coming of that day
when he will return to give us the fullness of joy...

Father, look with love on those you have called
to share in the one sacrifice of Christ.
By the power of your Holy Spirit
make them one body, healed of all division.

Keep us all in communion of mind and heart...
Help us to work together for the coming of your kingdom,
until at last we stand in your presence
to share the life of the saints,
in the company of the Virgin Mary and the apostles,
and of our departed brothers and sisters
whom we commend to your mercy.

Then, freed from every shadow of death,
we shall take our place in the new creation
and give you thanks with Christ, our risen Lord...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 3/27

This post comes a bit early but I know how busy folks are and how important planning ahead is for all of us.  There are many opportunities in Holy Week to participate and share in the greatest liturgies (services) the Church has to offer.  You may not be able to come to all of them, but plan now to come to as many as you can: your celebration of Easter will be all the greater and more joyful for having done so!  In that spirit, let's pause for prayer...
Holy Week is just days ahead, Lord.
In some ways, it will be an ordinary week: 
I'll still have to go to work, to school, to the store.
I'll still need to care for my family and friends. 
I'll still have to do laundry and take out the trash.
I'll still have to deal with life's everyday problems:
my responsibilities won't diminish or take a break...

And I'll do all this in a world that largely ignores
the names we give this week's special days:
                    Palm Sunday,  
                        Holy Thursday
                           Good Friday
                              Holy Saturday
                                 Easter Sunday
So I ask you to help me, Lord,
   to make and keep this week holy...

I hope and pray this week will be peaceful -
   in spite of all I have to do...

I hope and pray these days will be prayerful:
   that I'll make some time to spend with you alone
      and time to go to church on these holy days...

I hope and pray that in my mind and heart 
   these days will be different from any others,
   in how I see and experience the world around me,
   in how I plan and spend my time...

Help me know and live these days as set apart,  
   some solemn and some joyful:
      a time to grow in faith, and hope and love,
      a time to grow in my relationship with you...

Let this week not be like all the others, Lord -
   but let this week and all its days 
      be truly holy...


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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 3/26


Would that I'd long to hear your word,
with the hope for which I wait for spring...

Would that I'd serve my neighbors' needs
near as well as I tend my own...

Would that I'd think as well of all
as I do of my close and very best friends...

Would that I'd do what you ask of me
as sure as I follow my own desires...

Would that I'd be as fair and just
as I'd have others be with me...

Would that I'd speak when others won't
and let my lips give voice to truth...

Would that I'd help the unsure and weak
as your strong arms hold me secure...

Would that I'd think and act as pure
as the love and the peace you offer me...

Would that I'd pardon others' faults
with mercy I know I don't deserve...

Would that I'd make the time for prayer
that you have for me when I call on you...

Would that I'd open my heart to grace
as wide as it opens to foolishness...

Would that I'd think of my time as gold
to be spent with wisdom, prudence and care...

Would that I'd put all my trust in you
and not in my worries, doubts and fears...

Would that I'd love you Lord, my God,
as you love me forever more...



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