Monday, March 20, 2023

From Fr. Frank

This Sunday begins Passiontide, the two weeks before Easter that remind us of the deep solemnity of this time. The journey through Lent is marked by stages and rituals deepening our experience of this holy season of transformation. The covering of the crosses and statues with purple is a beautiful and symbolic tradition going back many centuries. The crosses are unveiled on Good Friday,  so that we can gaze on the cross and crucifix, seeing the glory and the beauty of so great a Love. All other images are unveiled at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Risen Christ restoring the beauty of Creation, expressed through art, that His Resurrection has set in motion. The “beauty” hiding beneath the surface of a wounded humanity must be “unveiled.”

As a way to enter this time of Passion, I would like to celebrate the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick during each Liturgy. This Sacrament is offered to anyone who is living with a chronic illness, facing surgery, recovering from surgery, living with emotional challenges, or has any kind of physical challenge/disability that is faced daily.

The Sacraments are celebrations that bring together symbols, words, gestures that allow us to encounter Christ’s presence in various ways. Bread, wine, oil, water, words, the  imposition of hands calling forth the power of the Holy Spirit… are the “physical” human and earthly elements used as instruments of God’s Grace.

Through the imposition of the priest’s hands, calling forth the power of the Spirit on those facing illness and the anointing on the forehead and palms of their hands with the Oil of the Sick, Christ becomes present in a visceral and concrete way, filling the person with the Sanctifying Grace of His healing power. This is truly a beautiful gift of our Catholic faith.

Those not being anointed have the privilege of being witnesses to this celebration of healing. The power of the Spirit fills the entire assembly, those being anointed and those not, drawing us together in our love of Christ. This, alone, brings everyone the healing of peace in a celebration that empowers us to care for each other.