“Holy Week” is what is says – the holiest week of the year. The General Norms for the Liturgical Year expresses it well: “Christ redeemed humanity and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: by dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year.” (#18)
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows. For the goal of apostolic endeavor is that all who are made children of God by faith and Baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his church, to take part in the sacrifice and eat the Lord’s supper.” (#10)
Putting these two together suggests that for all Catholics there is no more important time for us to celebrate the liturgy than the liturgies of Holy Week.
However, the reality is that most Catholics who attend Palm Sunday Mass do not come to church again until Easter.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a great dinner to which the man preparing the feast invited many. “When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Luke 14: 17-20).
No one actually refused to attend the banquet; they were just busy. What got in the way? Life.
It is significant that the liturgies of Holy Week are not “days of obligation” – unlike Sunday, no one is required to participate. What gets in the way? The same as in the parable – life. The world doesn’t slow down just because it’s Holy Week. The demands of family, work, friends, daily living continue as usual. There are many reasons – legitimate reasons – that a person can feel too busy, with many “somethings else to do” and so it is easy to say, “I ask you, consider me excused.”
And yet … this is the culmination of the entire liturgical year, the source and summit of our Christian life.
The invitation has gone out.
And your response?