This is Holy Week, the most sacred week in the liturgical year. It is a time when we reflect on Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, celebration of the Passover meal with His disciples on Holy Thursday, and His betrayal by Judas, which led to His crucifixion on Good Friday.
A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal highlighted an alarming but not surprising trend. Traditional American values are on the decline; specifically, the percentage of people who believe in the importance of Religion has decreased to 39% in 2023, down from 62% in 1998. So that might explain why, at the Saturday evening Mass at St. Michael’s Parish this past weekend, the pews were only half full, and very few St. Michael’s School students were present (perhaps they were all watching the SDSU basketball game?), even though Palm Sunday is such an important liturgy, and historically attendance has been high because everyone is eager to receive their blessed palms.
One week ago today, our nation experienced yet another horrifying tragedy when six people were killed at a school in Nashville, TN. While all school shootings are devastating, this one hit a little closer to home, because it took place at a faith-based school. Some people, naively, believe we are immune to such violence. Prayers, we deduce, protect us from the evils and dangers that have become so prevalent in recent years. But, as Catholic Christians devoted to our faith, we are very well aware that Evil does exist in this world, and unlike 61% of the population that has set Religion aside, we know that Satan is alive and well. And so every time there is another shooting, people are quick to debate the second amendment, or in this case, sexual identity, rather than considering that Evil gains its power in a world that has cast God aside.
As Catholic Christians, we also know that our story does not end on Good Friday – that Christ overcame death so He could save us all. We are not a crucifixion people but a Resurrection people, and to that end, we continue to fight Evil as best we can. As you perhaps read in Messenger, we have hired a consulting firm to guide our safety protocols. The initial observation has concluded, and we are awaiting a report with recommendations. Once we receive that report, we will provide the community with an update about any improvements to our current plan. Teachers, staff, and students will receive ongoing training in “best practices,” and a parent meeting will be scheduled so that your questions may be answered.
In the meantime, I encourage you to participate in Holy Week services at your place of worship. At St. Michael’s Parish, the Holy Thursday liturgy takes place at 7:00 PM; on Good Friday, Stations of the Cross will be re-enacted at 12:00 PM, followed by Communion services at 2:00 and 7:00 PM. Saturday Easter Vigil is at 8:00 PM, and there are five Masses on Easter Sunday at 7:15 AM, 9:00 AM, 9:05 AM (in the HFC), 10:45 AM, 10:50 AM (in the HFC) and 12:30 PM. Your families’ presence is so very important, especially during Holy Week, and the message you send to your children is forming their future practices. Hopefully, that message is: United, together, we can triumph over Evil.
I wish each one of you a happy, holy, and blessed Easter.