The word holy means ‘set apart’. Holy Week stands apart from every other week on the Christian calendar. The first Holy Week in Jerusalem changed the world, and it continues to change our lives. It is a week which takes us to the centre of who we are. This year our solemn celebrations will be different: no Chrism Mass, no processions, no washing of the feet, no prayer around the Cross, no Easter confessions, no Paschal Fire, no Easter water, no Dawn Mass, no congregations. Yet the message of these days will not be silenced, but will ring out around the world, with greater force and relevance than ever. On Holy Thursday we will give thanks for the precious gifts of Eucharist and Priesthood; on Good Friday we will celebrate the ‘Triumph of Failure’, which was the Triumph of Love; on Holy Saturday we will rejoice again at the news that the grave will not be our final address. We will be reassured that we are loved, and are not alone. God is in our loss; God is in our fear; God is in our pain; God will see us through. Back in the fourteenth century Europe was being ravished by the notorious Black Death pandemic, together with several bloody wars and great upheaval in the Church, with three men claiming to be Pope. Yet in the midst of all this turmoil and turbulence the gentle English mystic Julian of Norwich was unshakeable in her trust in God when she uttered the inspiring words that have consoled people in times of testing down the centuries: ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’. It’s really another version of the joyous Easter proclamation: ‘Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again’. We need to hear it and we will.
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