The Final Countdown

Clergy Corner by Fr. Williams

If you read this title and then thought… “I remember that song!” … then you have made me a happy man. But in our spiritual walk throughout the liturgical year, this week truly represents the  final countdown for us. Every year we walk alongside Christ throughout his life. We call that the liturgical year. We start in Advent with days of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. After the Christmas season (not just Christmas Day!!) we move into Ordinary Time walking with him in the daily events of his life. Then, in Lent, we once again begin to prepare, but in an even more penitential way than Advent. The countdown begins in the 40 days before Easter, in other languages the name of this time is based in 40, in Spanish for example it is Cuaresma from cuarenta (40) -- A common biblical length of time for preparation or fasting. Our English word, Lent, is actually taken from the secular lencten though, which is more like a “lengthening” referring to the longer Spring days at that time of year.


Towards the end of the Cuaresma, or Lent, we have Holy Week; the culmination of the life of our Lord. It is this week that we live together starting with Palm Sunday. The tradition of the church has been to celebrate these events at the time and day that they originally happened. Today we enter into Jerusalem with Jesus, waving the royal palms before him. On Holy Thursday, we will      celebrate the Last Supper with him on the day and time it happened, we will strip the altar to show the humility shown by Christ in his arrest that night, and then process to the altar of repose, where Jesus will be held, imprisoned away from us. On Friday we will recollect and relive the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ at the time and day that he did… his Passion traditionally happens at noon and his death at 3 p.m. We continue the fast through Friday until the vigil Saturday night where a fire is kindled in the darkness to be the symbol of the Resurrection that is to come that night, a hope that has come in the middle of the despair of humanity. Now the flowers are out, the music is back in full array, the colors have changed from purple to white, the images are uncovered and we rejoice in the resurrection. The final countdown has ended and death has been conquered by the light of Christ.


This is the story of Christ. This is now our story, our inheritance. We follow Christ with our palms waving to him. We take our cross and then we rise with him anew. Make this week holy, give all to him, and he will give all to you.

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