by Michael Podrebarac
I bet you never guessed that the church was in the travel business, but it’s true.
And each year, it hosts a wonderful pilgrimage to unparalleled destinations with breathtaking scenes, a truly remarkable itinerary and deluxe accommodations.
It’s called the Easter Triduum, and you need venture no farther than your parish church to take advantage of this exclusive opportunity.
In fact, it was a fourth-century Spanish woman’s diaries from her travels in the Holy Land that sparked much of what we do in church every Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Egeria was her name, and she witnessed firsthand how the Christians in Jerusalem commemorated the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, beginning with his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. She wrote of these experiences to her community back home. Her contribution to the development of our Western liturgical calendar is evident in the fact that, first in Spain, and then eventually in Rome, Holy Week became marked with palm processions, feet washing, veneration of an image of the cross and a late-night vigil centered on salvation history and baptism.
Want to know more? I’ve been privileged to have been invited to Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka on March 30 and St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lansing on April 5 to share about Egeria, her travels and the magnificent gift of the Easter Triduum. These 75-minute presentations will begin at 7 p.m. All are most welcome to attend. I’d be happy to come to your parish community sometime as well.
Pilgrimages are a significant part of our Catholic faith — so important that the church has, with Egeria’s help, enshrined the church year with regular visits to places like Bethlehem, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee and, of course, Jerusalem.
We travel in the footsteps of Jesus and experience his ministry firsthand through the sacred liturgy. He even brings us to heaven each time the Mass is celebrated! The celebrations of Holy Week and the Triduum are more than just historical adventures. They are life-changing experiences of just how much we are loved by the good Lord.
Join us on March 30 in Topeka or April 5 in Lansing. And then join us, via your parish church, from April 13-16, as we commemorate the “Three Days” that changed forever the world and the human race. Archbishop Naumann cordially invites you to attend these celebrations at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas, as well.
And don’t forget that other pilgrimage down the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Suffering,” offered weekly in most parishes: the Stations of the Cross.
You know, St. Francis invented this devotion as a pilgrimage opportunity for folks who couldn’t venture to Jerusalem. But that’s another story. . . .
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