By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
This recent Holy Week was a magnificent spiritual mountain from which I could compare the past and the present liturgical work of the church.
First of all, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the sacrament of reconciliation has certainly changed from a private session in a narrow confessional to a community celebration of God’s paternal love. We at Holy Cross Catholic Church had a joyous two days with Father Robert Seay, OFM, of Lafayette, La., who preached the healing message of the Gospel and laid his hands on many who acknowledged their needs and vulnerability together so as to gain the strength of the whole community.
Then on Palm Sunday we did not just stand in the church to get our branches blessed, but the whole assembly marched around the church as hymns of praise to God were sung.
On Tuesday, at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, deacons and priests and religious joined the bishop for the blessings of the Holy Oils. In the early 1960s, this rite took place on Thursday morning with a dozen priests and some sleepy parishioners in the pews. This year, the pews were packed and the choir and the brass ensemble made a magnificent noise as the olive oils were brought into the sanctuary as mere salad dressing and later were brought forth as the vehicles of sacramental grace.
Holy Thursday used to be the day when churches vied with each other to have the most magnificent “altars of repose.” It was a time for pilgrims to visit the most churches to see who did the best job. Now we have a holy liturgy telling us that the Eucharist is a powerful blessing in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ and then are called to imitate his servant-hood by washing the feet and the spirits of others.
Also in the past, Good Friday liturgies were in the middle of the day. Most folks had to work. Now all who wish can come to the evening Solemn Services to meditate on the passion of Jesus, to venerate His saving cross and to pray for the needs of our battered world.
As an altar server in Tyler, I joined a few hardy souls very early on Holy Saturday morning to listen to 12 passages from scripture, to bless a “triple” candle and to go to the entrance door of the church to knock three times before opening it as a symbol that those sinners who had done penance during Lent would be welcomed home.
This year, the service was an overwhelming event as new fire was blessed, the paschal candle was honored and dozens of catechumens boarded the Barque of Peter through the waters of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Finally, Easter morning arrived once again. Our prayer with the holy women at the tomb…
…ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.