“The commemoration and celebration of Jesus’ passion and resurrection make Holy Week the most important time of the church year,” states University Ministry’s April 1 Sunday and Beyond newsletter, which was handed out to all who attended Palm Sunday night services at USD’s Founders Chapel.
“Holy Week is the time of year when the real meaning and enduring hope of the Christian faith become most evident,” said USD Professor Gerard Mannion, director of USD’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture. “In the rituals and coming together of Christians the message and significance of the faith are revisited and celebrated anew.”
The University of San Diego, a Roman Catholic institution of higher education, recognized the beginning of Holy Week with Resident University Chaplain Father Michael T. White, C.S.Sp., presiding over Palm Sunday Masses at 7 and 9 p.m. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators initially came together in the Camino-Founders Patio area to hear Fr. White speak, to bless them and lead them into Founders Chapel for Mass and a Gospel narrative about Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday leads into the Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and, finally Easter Sunday — which, collectively, resonates for everyone of deep faith.
“Holy Week reminds me of hard, but essential, truths: suffering and death are a part of the human condition; new life comes only through death; the cross is at the center of my faith; and, like those we hear about in the Gospels this week, betrayal, violence, judgment, complicity, laziness and fear are a part of me, too,” said Michael Lovette-Colyer, assistant vice president of Mission and Ministry and director of University Ministry.
“Journeying through this week helps me be mindful of the many unpleasant aspects of myself and others that I usually keep at a distance, concealed by my privilege and optimism,” Lovette-Colyer said. “Retracing and re-living Jesus’ passion reminds me that God loved us so much that God was willing to embrace all the painful parts of being human.”
USD seniors Peytra Osetinsky and Daniel Hernandez, regular attendees at Founders Chapel services, each expressed the importance of Holy Week and Easter and how it shapes them.
“While some may recognize Holy Week to be the end of a season, it’s much more the beginning for me,” said Osetinsky, a senior Interdisciplinary Humanities major. “This week brings a sense of renewal. It’s a time for all of us to pause and unite ourselves with the Passion of Christ. Lent is very much a journey. It’s a journey to the cross. Christ has prepared this way for us and Holy Week is a fulfillment of this journey.”
Hernandez, a double major in Spanish and Theology and Religious Studies, coordinates Founders Chapel’s Sunday night masses and is a volunteer student sacristan.
“Holy Week,” he said, “is the culmination of everything I believe as a Roman Catholic. Listening to the passion narratives on Palm Sunday and Good Friday and recalling the suffering Christ endured is such a powerful faith experience for me. This week seems to get darker and gloomier every day until its climax on Good Friday. I truly feel the power of the Passion at the Veneration of the Cross on Friday. To see the cross, to touch and kiss the cross is such a powerful moment that leaves me speechless and in great sorrow. It’s in this sorrow in which we come to rejoice in the resurrection on Easter Sunday.”
Father Ron Pachence, chair of USD’s Theology and Religious Studies Department offers additional perspective and a personal reflection.
“It’s no accident that the Church celebrates Easter in the spring. This is the season when Earth awakens to new life from her winter ‘death’ and darkness yields to light. The resurrection celebrates what God’s natural world announces every year. God is the God of life who transforms our darkest experiences of sin and suffering into a season of hope for renewed life here and in the world to come. This is what God does — nothing else — because, as John tells us, God is love.”
“Yet, for me, Easter isn’t just about us as individuals who struggle to make sense out of the dark side of life and find reason to hope,” Pachence continued. “It is, but just as importantly, it’s about our world. Without Easter faith, we could easily despair of Jesus’ promise that God’s Kingdom of justice and peace will one day defeat the powers of injustice, hatred and war. Jesus’ Easter greeting to his astounded disciples after the resurrection is his Easter message to us, a message of healing and reconciliation: ‘Shalom,’ he said. ‘Peace.’ We’re never going to get a better offer than that!”
— Ryan T. Blystone
USD Holy Week/Easter schedule (all services at The Immaculata): Holy Thursday — Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7 p.m.; Eucharistic Adoration follows Mass until 11 p.m.; Good Friday — Outdoor Stations of the Cross, noon; Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, 7 p.m.; Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil — Mass, 8 p.m.; Easter Sunday — Masses, 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.