Hello and welcome!
Friday, we held a day-long Lenten a retreat for the employees of the Pastoral Center.
For a very long time I have wanted to hold such a retreat for employees so, when Father Jonathan Gaspar mentioned the possibility, I charged him with organizing it.
Father Peter Grover gave a wonderful talk and I think people were very happy for the opportunity to have confession, Eucharistic adoration and even sharing the meals together. Holding the retreat just before Holy Week made it all the more appropriate.
I was very happy to see how many people took advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We had, I believe, eight priests and we actually had to delay the Mass to give them time to finish hearing confessions.
I think the day was a great success and my hope is that every year for Advent and Lent we can hold a similar day of recollection for the staff.
- – -
In order to have more interaction with the seminarians, we have been dividing them up into classes or smaller groups and inviting them for Vespers and dinner at the Cathedral.
So, Friday evening I met with some of our pre-theology seminarians who are studying at St. John’s and some of the men who are in the college program at Our Lady of Providence.
- – -
Saturday, I was visited by Roma Downey and her daughter, Reilly. Reilly is going to be studying at Boston University and so they were here for a visit.
Roma brought me the gift of this lovely book.
She also told me of her plans to have a television program based on the Acts of the Apostles.
- – -
Sunday, of course, was Palm Sunday and each year I like to join a local parish for their celebration of this important day.
This year, I went to celebrate the Spanish Mass at St. Mark’s in Dorchester.
Father Wendell Verrill is taking care of the parish while Father Dan Finn is recovering from an injury. In fact, I visited him recently at the rehabilitation center in Lawrence where he is staying. We pray for Father Dan’s speedy recovery.
I was happy to be at St. Mark’s and share in their Palm Sunday celebration with them.
As I was getting ready to leave for St. Mark’s, I had a chance to witness the procession that was taking place the Cathedral. Father Felipe Gonzalez organized quite a sight. They even had a live donkey!
- – -
The liturgical norms call for the Liturgy of the Hours to be prayed with the community during Holy Week. So, following the celebration at St. Mark’s, I returned to the Cathedral to preside at Vespers.
Among the participants were the youth groups brought by Father Alonso Macias and Father Michael Nolan.
- – -
Tuesday, was the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and I was honored to be asked to participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the sites of the explosions.
Mayor Marty Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick and myself gathered with the families of those who died in the explosions early in the morning at the Parkman House on Beacon Hill, which is owned by the city of Boston. From there, we went to lay the wreaths at the two sites on Boylston Street where the bombs went off.
At the first wreath laying, in front of The Forum restaurant, I read from 1 Thessalonians:
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.
At the second site, I offered this prayer:
God of all consolation, through your providential care the darkness we experienced gives way to light, and our grief and sorrow are joined to new hope and the promise of the future.
Grant our loved ones who have died the grace and peace of eternal life. May our continued prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of their lives be met by their prayers for us, and may those be a source of consolation and strength.
May the gift of your love remain with us always, strengthening our spirits and enabling us to go forward to accomplish that which is right and good.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen
On this first anniversary of the bombings, many people are still struggling to for healing their lives, especially those who were directly impacted.
This year Patriots Day, the day the marathon is held, falls on the day after Easter. We expect large numbers of runners who are here from all over the country and the world to come to our churches to join in our Easter celebrations. At the Easter Masses in many of our churches, including here at the Cathedral, there will be special blessings for the runners. I invite all of you to join us.
- – -
Later that morning, we celebrated the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.
We were pleased to be joined again this year by Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios.
At the start of the Mass, he offered some words of encouragement and fraternity to us.
For me, the Chrism Mass is one of the most important liturgical events of the year. It is a chance for us to gather with our priests to bless together the oils that we will use in our ministries for the upcoming year as a sign of unity in the archdiocese.
The Mass is also a call to priestly renewal in our lives, as we recommit ourselves to our ordination promises.
I’d like to share my homily with you here:
In addition to the fine music provided by the Cathedral choir we were also very happy to have the students from St. Paul’s Choir School perform for us at the Mass.
I am very pleased to say that this year we had a record turnout of priests. In fact, I think they even ran out of food at the Chrism Mass Luncheon held for the priests next-door after the Mass. I certainly do not remember that happening before!
At the luncheon after the Mass we honored three priests: Fathers Brian McHugh, Brian Clary and Peter Nolan for their excellent service to the archdiocese.
- – -
Wednesday evening, we held our annual celebration of Tenebrae.
As with the Sunday Vespers Service, we have found that bringing back the celebration of Tenebrae is also a beautiful way to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours during Holy Week.
Tenebrae means “darkness” in Latin and the service involves the praying of the psalms and the chanting of the lamentations from the Old Testament. We also chant the Benedictus from Lauds of Holy Thursday.
There is a large candelabra, called a hearse, and after each psalm is read a candle is extinguished until only one candle, symbolizing Christ, remains lit.
The service ends with the “Strepitus,” which is not so much music a rumbling as a rumbling of the organ.
A homily is always given during the celebration, and this year we had our transitional deacon who is assigned here at the Cathedral, Steven Clemence, give the homily for us.
- – -
Yesterday, we began the Paschal Triduum, the holiest days of the year in which we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, the Crucifixion and Death of our Lord, and his triumph over sin and death in the Resurrection. As I do each year, rather than split the events of this time, I will share my reflections on all our Triduum celebrations with you in my post next week.
Until then, I wish you all a happy and blessed Easter!