Ag ceiliúradh an tSeachtain Mhóir 2020
i bparóiste Bearna / na Forbacha

Celebrating Holy Week 2020 in the Parish of Barna /na Forbacha

‘Hosanna do Mhac Dháithí!
Is beannaí an té atá ag teacht in ainm an Tiarna!
Hosanna sna flaithis thuas!’

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
(Matthew 21:9)

“Is not religion, all deeds and all reflection,
and that which is neither deed nor reflection,
but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul,
even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?

Who can separate his faith from his actions,
or his belief from his occupations?
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

And if you would know God
be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him
playing with your children.

And look into space; you shall see Him
walking in the cloud,
outstretching His arms in the lightning
and descending in rain.

You shall see Him smiling in flowers,
then rising and waving His hands in trees.”
(Khalid Gibran)

Palm Sunday 2020

Palm Sunday is a form of entry point into the events of Holy Week, the central week in the Church liturgical calendar. In the absence of our usual ritual blessing, a Palm branch was attached to the front door of the Church in Barna. 


Viewing the unique combination of door and palm, I was struck by the ‘clash of opposites’:

The Palm: represents the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. The Closed Door: indicates that even though the door is an entry point into the House where the Local Christian Community pray; that privilege is sadly not possible on this most sacred of weeks.

I remember reading somewhere that the essence of mature faith is the capacity to hold opposites together in a type of healthy tension.

So even though we cannot liturgically enter in Holy Week; the ceremonies can still invite us to bringing to awareness the reality that we are already, regrettably, immersed in the event represented by Holy Week due to the crisis that has gripped the our planet.
As I was attempting to organise my collection of CDs recently, I came across one I purchased last year in Westminster Cathedral. The title of the CD, Media Vita, are the opening words of an antiphone;

‘Media vita in morte sumus’ –
‘in the midst of life we are in death’.

The antiphon is attributed to the Benedictine monk Notker I of Saint Gall, who died in 912. Legend has it that the musician and poet wrote it when he saw construction workers building a bridge hover over an abyss. Most likely, however, the hymn is much older and originated in France around 750. It expresses an important Christian idea that was understood for many centuries that death is about life. (‘Wolfgang Grassi)

Again, as in the case with the palm attached to the closed door; we see the meeting of two more opposites: Life & Death.

These two themes are core to an understanding of Holy Week, especially the final three days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday, known as The Triduum (The three days ) recalling the Passion, Crucufixion, Death , Burial and Resurrection of Jesus,
During the 3 days, we notice in the various individuals
A mixture of
Love and Hate
Courage and Fear
Despair and Hope
Most importantly the celebrations reflect a strong link between Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning, Darkness into Light

Of its essence, the pinnacle of the week focuses on Hope. 


Holy Week is a vital reminder, that darkness, difficulty, pain, are part and parcel of people’s lives, but through nurturing our spiritual selves, we can endure and in the end be stronger than whatever cross we have to carry. An important reminder during this present time. 

Allow yourselves to be immersed in the unfolding events of the three days. The experiences endured by Christ happened long ago and they are happening now in our lives in an unprecedented way. May Holy Week be a precious reminder that there is a way of being in the darkness with the help of God / Le cunamh Dé.