MARCH 28 (PALM SUNDAY)
am: 24, 29 || pm: 103
am: Zech 9:9-12 || pm: Zech 12:9-13:9
1 Tim 6:12-16
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal and peaceful entrance into Jerusalem. The entire entrance sequence by Jesus according to the gospels has many important aspects that involve the participation of Jesus, his disciples, and those witnessing the event. The significance of the story is underlined by the fact that it is found in all four Gospels.
Liturgically this festival has early roots in the Eastern Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes about annual commemoration of this great event as recorded in the Scriptures, with the custom also being observed by the desert fathers of Egypt and Syria. The first evidence we find in the West is in the 7th Century through the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, that is, at the end of the sixth, or the beginning of the seventh, century. While it many places it was not possible to obtain palms or olive branches; they were supplied by branches from other trees. Nonetheless, the Liturgy of the Palms were still employed.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY: The Triumphal Entry is one of the few events in Jesus’ life that is mentioned in all four gospels. This should call our attention to the significance placed on this event. Matthew 21 states that the crowd spread their garments on the road. In the Bible, garments represent people. When Jesus sits on their garments and rides over them, on a donkey, not a horse as opposed to how the Roman Governor would enter the city. The Prince of Peace proclaims that His kingdom is one of peace. There is no violence, no retaliation, no retribution in His kingdom unlike the Romans looking on. The folks gathered declared “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9) . The question of this day for us is our response similar to the crowd in Jerusalem? Do we display a profound sense of joy as we submit in heart, mind, soul, and strength to the One who rides on a donkey?
This Palm Sunday, will the Savior’s humility move our hearts? Will we join the crowds in welcoming Christ. We will wave palms and cry, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Will we honor him or in a few days simply betray him?
PRAYER OF THE DAY: O God, Giver of all good gifts, we thank you for Jesus who gave Himself for us. We pray that our lives will be as the garments of Palm Sunday, laid down so that Christ might rule over us. Teach us to see the way to the cross as the way of Freedom as we make our journey this week. Amen.
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself”. – St. Andrew of Crete”.
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE : Read Matthew 21:1 -11. What “garments” do I need to lay down before my God? Can you reflect on this avoiding any self -righteousness? We are called to be living testimonies, share with another the fruit of this discipline.
MARCH 29 (MONDAY)
am: 51 || pm: 69:1-23
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: As early as the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom referred to Holy Week as The Great Week, “Not that it has more days in it than other weeks, or that its days are made up of more hours than other days; but we call it great, because of the great mysteries which are then celebrated” [ Homily 30, on Genesis]. In other Christian cultures we find the week before Easter referred to by several name es such as the Painful Week because of the sufferings of the Christ and of the fatigue and physical sacrifice required of the faithful in observing them. It is curious to note that On Holy Monday, the Orthodox Church remembers the cursing of the fig tree. This event is a display of Christ’s divine power and of God’s judgment upon those who do not follow Him.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY: In this letter appointed for today from St. Paul to the Philippians, the counsel here is to encourage is to aspire to a mature Christian faith life. Paul encourages us to pursue the Christian life with all our hearts. The path is simple as Paul sees it, to walk in the footsteps of Christ and in this Holy Week that means ultimately walking the way of the Via Dolorosa. Like Jesus, Paul left everything behind because he was rooted in Christ. Paul makes it clear that the source of his joy and ours is in Jesus. In verses 2-6, Paul warns the Philippian Christians against what would certainly drain all joy from their lives. Do we have that awareness? Paul values knowing Christ because he has come to see that only in union with Christ, and not on account of his natural qualities or achievements, is the way to live. Will we be able to make that discernment this week.
PRAYER OF THE DAY : O Lord, we pray this week for those who know you, but who have lost their way. Help them rediscover you this week. We pray for protection for those who are misled by the world and wolves in sheep clothing, help them discover the truth. We pray too for those who are struggling to find answers, give them knowledge, Gracious God to make their way to Calvary this week. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “Do we understand that when the world rejected its Savior—when “Jesus began to be sorrowful and very troubled…and His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death,” when He died on the Cross—that “normal life” came to its end and is no longer possible? – Alexander Schmeman
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE – On this Holy Monday let me dig deep to discover the impurities within me dear Lord through the cleansing power of Your Spirit. In my examination of conscience let me acknowledge them, let my actions and thoughts compel me this day to let go of a long-standing grudge and practice real forgiveness after the example of Jesus.
MARCH 30 (TUESDAY)
am: 6 || pm: 94
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: In many countries, passion plays take place during Holy Week. These are often “sacred representations “which can justly be regarded as pious exercises. Indeed, such sacred representations have their origins in the Sacred Liturgy. Some of these plays, which beg an in the monks’ choir, so as to speak, have undergone a progressive dramatization that has taken them outside of the church.
Tuesday of Holy Week is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when the churchmen tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti -god remark. This day is important also on another count. Jesus shared with his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day.
In the Eastern tradition, the Parable of the Ten Virgins is read on Holy Tuesday. It tells the story of the five virgins who filled their lamps in preparation for receiving the bridegroom while the other five allowed their lamps to go out, and hence were shut out of the marriage feast. This parable is a warning that we must always be prepared to receive our Lord when He comes again. The theme of the day is reinforced by hymn they sing: “I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior, but have no wedding garment that I may enter.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY : Psalm 6 is clearly a Penitential Psalm which is an expression of sorrow for personal guilt. This psalm like many others are ones of lament which given the scope of Holy Week compels us to consider our culpability for the Passion and death of Christ to the very depth of our being . Our cry to God in lament comes from “out of our depths” (Psalm 130.1), with the hope and confidence—that God will deliver us. This is a critical focus for us this Holy Week, that if we can be repentant, we can be delivered. Of course, we must reflect on the attitudes or actions that we engage and make an account to discern if we are displeasing to God? we must bring our sinful heart to him for cleansing and strengthening. The sixth psalm shows us one of the ways we should bring our heart to God—in repentance and recognition that our sin brings God’s fatherly discipline.
PRAYER OF THE DAY: Gracious Father be with me as I struggle to accept the crosses of my life. I seek to be delivered from the power of the one who wants only to destroy my love and trust in you. Help me to be humble and accepting like your son, Jesus. Save me, Lord. Only you can save me. Amen
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “The Cross of Christ. It has power to wake the dullest conscience and melt the hardest heart, to cleanse the unclean, to reconcile him who is afar off and restore him to fellowship with God, to redeem the prisoner from his bondage and lift the pauper from the dunghill, to break down the barriers which divide [people] from one another, to transform our wayward characters into the image of Christ and finally make us fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.” –John Stott.
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE – Spend time in prayer for those in the Sudan, Congo, Myanmar and China a who are risk of betrayal and violence for the faith. Go to the Voice of the Martyrs website and support a person whose normal experience of faith is persecution.
MARCH 31 (WEDNESDAY)
am: 55 || pm: 74
Jer 17:5-10, 14-17
SPY WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK : This day is s also called: Good Wednesday, Holy and Great Wednesday, Holy Week Wednesday.
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: This is the day min the Western Church that is known as “Spy Wednesday”. This is the day when Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus. The burning question of the theme for today is how do we overcome or forgive someone who has compromised our capacity to trust at its root? Jesus’ response to his friend’s infidelity is a poignant acceptance of human weakness. Judas’ pathetic failure does not arouse Jesus’ anger but compassion!
Judas’ role in the story seems to set into motion the drama of the Passion. He is God’s inscrutable instrument, that once “Satan entered him” all was doomed—Can we grasp that the allowance of Satan no matter how tempting will doom us?
In some churches, especially the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, this day is known as Holy and Great Wednesday. The main theme of the day is the commemoration of the woman who anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume, while the second theme commemorates the agreement signed by Judas to betray Jesus. The day usually begins with the Presanctified Liturgy, followed by the Matins Bridegroom Service and the singing of hymns. Many Orthodox Christians also fast on this Wednesday.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY : As we consider the words of John’s Gospel, we ponder how Jesus stands in the shadow of the cross he confesses a great reality. He is in turmoil regarding the events that lay before him. The hour has come. Jesus has come for this hour. So, remember, the hour Jesus refers to is the hour of his great work of redemption. Jesus willing and intentionally takes our sins upon himself, God will pour out his wrath on Jesus because of those sins, the Son of God will taste death, and then he will rise victorious over sin and the grave.
If we are going to be reconciled to God, if we are going to be redeemed by seeking after God, it will only be through the atoning cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is judgment. The question for us on SPY WEDNESDAY is do we want an honest assessment of how closer we are to Judas in practice than we think?
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “By these words [Jesus] testifies, that he prefers the glory of the Father to all things else, and even neglects and disregards his own life…the true regulation of all our desires is, to seek the glory of God in such a manner that all other things shall give way to it.” – John Calvin
PRAYER OF THE DAY: Please forgive us Jesus whenever we betray you. Today on this Spy Wednesday we seek your forgiveness and healing O Lord from this grave sin of betrayal . For those times we have betrayed our family and friends whom we hurt, help us Lord Jesus to enter full communion with you and them, to be filled with your Holy Spirit so that we think and act like you in total obedience to the Father, giving no space in us for Satan to trade you off for anything. Amen.
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE – This is the day we remember Judas betraying the Lord. Ask the Lord for forgiveness for all your sins. Read John 13:21-32 aloud over dinner tonight. Whom do we betray by our actions?
APRIL 1 (THURSDAY)
am: 102 || pm: 142, 143
1 Cor 11:23-26
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: At the supper that was lovingly prepared for our Lord, probably by his Mother and the other women who followed him and, as the Gospels say, cared for his needs, he rose from the meal, took a basin and a towel, and began to wash his disciple’s feet. This seems to have caused some consternation among the apostles. Washing the feet of guests seems to be the work of a servant, perhaps even a slave.
This ritual carried out every Holy Thursday, in churches in Rome to my neighborhood parish, still speaks volumes. We are humbled by Jesus’ willingness to do such a personal and menial task. The model of love and willingness to sacrifice for others are so strongly portrayed in the simple act of washing feet. With that act, Jesus put his faith in those apostles, and throughout the ages, to each of us. We don’t always understand, but we can follow Jesus’ example and model of humility and sacrifice.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY :As you read the Eucharistic lessons today can you imagine the turmoil and tension of that first Passover night. The people put all their trust in Moses and did what they were commanded and at midnight the darkness was filled with wailing as the angel of God took every firstborn Egyptian, man and beast. Amid confusion and fright the Hebrews left Egypt, following their leader Moses. He took them to the Red Sea and safely brought them across by parting the waters with his staff.
It is no accident that the Passion of Jesus takes place at Passover time. Jesus faced a much fiercer opponent than Pharaoh; he faced death itself. To all who were slaves of sin he promised freedom and eternal life if they would follow him. Not everyone could believe but many did and became his disciples. On this holy night, we pledge once again to use our hands and feet for the work of forgiveness, for the work of loving each other. We pledge to wash each other’s feet, to hand over our lives for each other, for the sake of the world.
We pledge ourselves to do Eucharist, to do this in memory of the One who gave His life for us.
PRAYER OF THE DAY: Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ.” –– St Cyril of Jerusalem
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE – Imagine what it would feel like, if your loved one was taken to prison without due cause. Imagine how the apostle’s felt as Jesus was carried away. Maundy Thursday. Read John 13:1 -17, 31b-35. Perhaps washing the feet of someone with whom you are called to be more intimate with.
APRIL 2 (FRIDAY)
am: 95, 22 || pm: 40, 54
1 Pet 1:10-20
am: Jn 13:36-38 || pm: Jn 19:38-42
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: The events of Holy Week mark what T. S. Eliot called “the point of intersection of the timeless with time.” What happened one Friday in Jerusalem was not “once upon a time,” but once for all time. As Jews reenact the mighty act of God in saving his chosen people at the Exodus, so Christians are called to follow Jesus on his lonely trek from the Upper Room through Gethsemane to Calvary.
Today is a day to deeply consider our relationship to God, to the Crucifixion, and to the power of penance and forgiveness. How can we turn our face to God? Good Friday is the day on which all of us should consider how we can individually and collectively turn our faces towards God and how the promise of the Resurrection will enable our souls to continue to “bend to the East” even though we as physical beings continue that journey. Let us consider, in this Holy Week, what we must do if we are to move to forgiveness and what must happen across our hearts and homes before we can fully do so.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY :The summary message of Good Friday is that Jesus was condemned, crucified, bled and died. But behind these scenarios lie what gave him the greatest agony, namely, the denial by those he taught and healed and the deliberate denial and betrayal by Judas and Peter his disciples. Imagine what Jesus was feeling when Judas walked out that door and darkness fell. Imagine how he felt, when he looked to Peter to stay by him, and despite his earlier promise to do so, declined and denied him. What a suffering?
Peter, while much loved by the Lord, and having been privy to the exchange regarding Judas, still doesn’t seem to get it! His desire for ‘insider knowledge’ super – cedes his desire to simply listen to and obey the Lord. This leads him to an offer he would not have been able to keep, as his later actions attest. With knowledge aforethought, Christ provides an important lesson in foretelling Peter’s fear once the reality of Christ’s mission is revealed.
Like Peter, we can see only what Judas did but fail to realize that we deny and betray him in so many ways: we doubt some of his teachings and pick and choose them, we deny Him our time – we have time for everything but for God. Jesus is worth more than billions, but Judas sold him on discount at 30 pieces of silver. Like Judas we sell Jesus at a discount when we equate him to humans and prefer human laws to the laws of God, when we receive the Eucharist without going to Confession, when we are ashamed to talk about him before our relations and friends or pray in a public place.
PRAYER OF THE DAY: Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “While the world changes, the Cross stands firm.” – St. Bruno
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE: We can spend the day with an inner quiet. We can practice this as a day of fast to heighten our awareness of the sacrifice of Jesus. If we are unable to attend a celebration of “Our Lord’s Passion,” we can surely enter it in many ways. We can place a crucifix in a central place in our home. We can download an image of the crucifixion from the web. We can read the Passion in John’s Gospel or pray with the Stations of the Cross We can pause – sometime between 12 noon and 3 pm and simply say “thank you.” If we are able to celebrate with others, we can let our veneration of the cross be full of intimacy and personal gratitude – beyond where words can take us – for God’s mercy and love.
APRIL 3 (SATURDAY)
am: 95, 88 || pm 27
am: Heb 4:1-16 || pm: Rom 8:1-11
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: There is no liturgy on Holy Saturday. We spend the day reflecting upon the powerful reality of Jesus’ death. In addition to the Daily Reflection and the Preparing for the Easter Vigil Liturgy pages, we offer a page with each of the readings for the Easter Vigil and a page with each of the prayers that are said after each reading. These pages are inter-linked, so that is it possible to go back and forth, easily, just following the links.
What is important is that we keep this day holy and let our “sense” of the mystery of death shape our reflection, and our longing to celebrate the Easter gift of Jesus alive, for us and with us.
This is the Blessed Sabbath. The “Great Vigil” is the day, which connects Good Friday, the commemoration of the Cross, with the day of His Resurrection. To many the real natures and the meaning of this “connection”, or “middle day”, remains obscure. For a good majority of churchgoers, the “important” days of Holy Week are Friday and Sunday, the Cross -and the Resurrection. These two days, however, remain somehow “disconnected unless one engages in the Great Vigil this day of transformation, the day when victory grows from inside the defeat, when before the Resurrection, we are given to contemplate the death of death itself. All this is expressed, and even more, all this really takes.
place every year in th is marvelous morning service, in this liturgical commemoration, which becomes for us a saving and transforming present.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY : Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
The Lessons for Holy Saturday Night invite us to remember, reflect on, and be with, and hold significant events and faith stories upon which our faith is built creation of universal harmony out of rampant chaos, the salvation of one family on behalf of all women and men and children, the parting of the Red Sea delivering the Israelites from death to freedom. From the New Testament we Remember the innocent Jesus who was crucified and died. Hold the mutilated body of the tortured Jesus. Comfort the sorrowing Mother Mary.
PRAYER OF THE DAY: O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE : Christ does not force our will; He only takes what we give Him. But He does not give Himself entirely until He sees that we yield ourselves entirely to Him.— St. Teresa of Avila
HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE – Attend part or all the Great Vigil of Easter and observe the Solemn Fast.
APRIL 4 (SUNDAY)
am: 148, 149,150 || pm: 113, 114
am: Exod 12:1-14 || pm: Isa 51:9-11
am: John 1:1-18 || pm: John 20:19-23
EASTER SUNDAY – Feast of the Resurrection
LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: This is the Sunday of Sundays, the day of Resurrection of Christ, the center and foundation of our faith. As Saint Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain” [I Cor. 15:14, 17]. Thus, Easter is the pinnacle of all feasts of the Church year, which began with Advent, or the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, sent by God to provide the means for our Salvation. The culmination of the entire liturgy is the Easter feast. Families who attend Mass on Easter Day join millions of Christians all over the world — past and present — in joyous affirmation of our redemption through the love of Christ, our hope of salvation, and our faith in the resurrection from the dead and the life of the world to
come. Either the Easter Vigil or Mass of the Day fulfills the obligation for Easter Mass, the Easter Day.
MEDITATION OF THE DAY:“Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter the joy of their Lord! Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages.
Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He
has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. “Isaiah foretold this when he said, ‘You, O Hel l, have been troubled by encountering Him below.’ Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
“Hell took a body and discovered God. It took Earth and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and you, O death , are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life is liberated! Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first- fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Dominion unto ages of ages. Amen! (Excerpted from the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom , 400)
PRAYER OF THE DAY God of Promise and God of Hope, who through your great mercy
have granted us new birth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
we praise your wonderful name! God of Glory and God of Might who through your great power have granted us new strength to endure all things through faith in Christ our risen King, we praise your wonderful name! Amen
ANCIENT WORDS/PRESENT GRACE : Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead, the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever. – – St. Hippolytus of Rome
EASTER DISCIPLINE : The egg has represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. It is the universal symbol of Easter celebrations throughout the world and has been dyed, painted, adorned and embellished in the celebration of its special symbolism. With the advent of Christianity, the symbolism of the egg changed to represent, not nature’s rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose. Make an egg and share it with everyone you cherish.