October 24, 2016
The greatest week of the year introduces the
Triduum—the glorious three days that have changed the world forever—as a procession. All life is a procession in the obvious movement from yesterday to today to tomorrow. The physical procession walked on Palm Sunday begins the steps we walk daily with our Lord to his temporary tomb. None of this is “play acting” like a Passion Play; while still in time, we actually are with our Lord.
In recent years, there has been a widespread loss of the numinous character of the Liturgy whereby heaven and earth meet. The less a people understand the true drama of the authentic rites, the more they lapse into tasteless theatrics and contrived sentimentality, rather like the old vaudevillians who wrapped themselves in a flag or held a baby when their act was failing. Happily, the Church in many places is beginning to recover from the unfortunate generation of abuses in worship. Step by step, younger people are being introduced to their great heritage in the solemn chants and actions of the sacred rites. In addition, there are non-liturgical devotions to help the faithful, such as the Stations of the Cross. This year, for the first time in a long while, the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday will be preceded in the Church of St. Michael by the Three Hours Devotion from Noon to Three, with meditations on the Seven Last Words.
Walking with our Lord in these days requires faith and reason. In his 1998 encyclical
Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf.
Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3;
Jn 14:8; 1
A prime example of this is the Apostle Thomas. His ardor was seen when he was willing to risk his life by going with Christ to Jerusalem. These were not empty words: tradition has him traveling to Syria and Persia and dying for his Lord in India. But his faith also exercised his reason. He asks the Lord where he is going, because he does not know. After the Resurrection, he says he will not believe that it is the Lord unless he can touch the wounds.
These are examples of doubt, but a doubt that is reasonable. Our Lord obliges by declaring himself “The Way, the Truth and the Life.” And on the eighth day of the Resurrection, he moves Thomas to utter what Pope Benedict XVI called the greatest profession of faith in the Scriptures: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
In these great days, let us walk with the whole Church, including that apostle called Doubting Thomas, who in fact was Rational Thomas and Faithful Thomas.