Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of Go, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:6). ⧾

The observance of Holy Week this year has no precedent in the Church’s history. For weeks now a pandemic has resulted in the closure of our churches. Our commemorations of the Paschal Triduum will be marked by a profound silence and sorrow. Palms will be blessed but not distributed. A much cherished sacramental, held in hand during the reading of the Lord’s Passion and then placed in homes everywhere, will remain hidden as it were, waiting for the return of the faithful to our churches. Palms are a visible expression of our faith; specifically of our faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour. With those who acclaimed Him Son of David as He entered the Holy City of Jerusalem, we affirm our faith in His divinity, His messianic mission and His universal kingship. These profound and fundamental truths are summarized and expressed by a blessed palm or olive branch. Such is the power of a blessing; nature is enriched and transformed by grace, and the physical becomes metaphysical communicating grace and truth to us. Yes, there is profound meaning in the sacred rites and objects of the sacred liturgy and this year, the faithful must access these realities not visibly but invisibly, in mystery.

Priests will celebrate these rites in solitude and the faithful will assist from a distance, separated; sheep deprived of their shepherds and shepherds deprived of their flocks. Nevertheless, it is possible for all of us, both clergy and laity to derive great spiritual benefit from these unusual circumstances. These remind us that the sacred liturgy is always the action of Christ the High Priest. The silence  and sobriety of an empty church will benefit the priest and remind him that it is Christ Our Lord who is always the agent of the sacred rites. The essence of the priest’s role in the sacred rites is his personal union with Christ so that Christ may truly be seen and heard. The words of John the Baptist come to mind. He must increase, but I must decrease (Jn. 3:30).

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