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Reflections during Holy Week 2020

img_0481-443x800Our journey with our Lord brings us to this most solemn week for all Christians.   Yet we find ourselves both anxious and expectant of what may come next.  It is not the events of our Lord’s passion that has us most anxious.  Rather we feel the vulnerability and risk associated with a microscopic adversary, the novel coronavirus.  This tiny entity that we cannot see, but fear greatly, has presented every person with never before foreseen challenges.  We have been forced to submit to authorities in new ways, we have been stripped of our complacency and distanced from our self-created sense of comfort and self-reliance.

For us as Christians and Catholics it has been a Lenten journey like no other, one seen in a new light if we are able to see all that has come upon us through our spiritual eyes.   This Lent has given us a stark reminder more powerful than any of our rituals of faith, of our human condition — the finite reality of our human physical bodies.

Now imagine for a moment the world back in the time of Jesus Christ.  We may have an idealized view of what it was like.  But it was a world of difficulties, of hardships, and of discomforts.  During Jesus’ three years of public ministry he walked and lived the day to day realities of that time. And for what little the apostles had in terms of possessions, Jesus asked them to give up all for the greater treasure he offered.  Now consider the works of Jesus during his travels in the many towns and villages around Galilee.  Aside from his preaching, you would probably agree that his healing of the sick is among the most mentioned topics in Scripture. Wherever he traveled, Jesus was surrounded by people who sought to be healed.

In the situation of our present moment, we have been humbled to change our behavior, our thinking, our habits, relationships and more.  Like the people in Jesus’ time on earth, we are a people and a world in need of healing.  We have been in need of healing for some time.   Our plea of healing is not only for our physical problems, but for healing of the many ways we fail to live the virtues that Jesus calls us to.  Those failings are our sins.   Jesus not only wished to heal the people of his time on earth of their physical infirmities, but in many ways their spiritual blindness, a blindness that is prevalent in our time.  Jesus’ love and desire is to heal people of all time for all eternity.

A tradition during Great and Holy week in the Byzantine Catholic church has always been the chance for all Byzantine Catholics –  not limited to those with physical ailments — to receive the Sacrament of Sick, usually on Holy Wednesday.  Our Eastern view of the Sacrament is that we are all in need of healing, whether that is spiritual or physical and we are invited as a church family to receive this Sacrament during Great and Holy Week.  Unfortunately, during this time of cloistering and distancing, we are unable to receive this important Sacrament of our Catholic church.   However, we can still ask Jesus to heal us wherever we may be.  We can “attend” one of the many streamed services online, even to chant and pray along as participants.

We do not know what comes next in our present crisis.  In any crisis we do not know.  But we do know what comes next in the upcoming and final days of Holy Week.  And as we participate in our domestic church services this week, we can appreciate more clearly what Jesus endured for us, we see the price of sacrificial love, and the meaning of the cross.  We also see what Jesus wants us to have, wants us to possess, and that is the constancy of hope, a hope in all that is Truth, all that is eternal.  For the cross is more than a symbol.  Jesus Christ our Lord has conquered what we fear most.  He shows us the Way, loves us as children, knows our fears and hears our prayers.

We call to mind the many ways Jesus healed those who sought his help in total trust. In faith we can obtain those same graces and spiritual healing.   Jesus, the great Physician of Souls is always near to the hearts of those who seek and ask.

  • Please pray this week for healing for those who are suffering in any way and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
  • Pray for all who tirelessly serve the needs of others in sacrifice, that they may have the physical strength and patience they require.
  • Pray for healing and softening of the hearts that reject and mock God or are lukewarm in their relationship with Him.
  • And do not fear to ask for your own spiritual healing to trust God in all the trials of life, in asking for protection in the Most Holy and Blessed name, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton, Pennsylvania

A Divine Liturgy is celebrated annually at the Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The annual novena to St. Ann draws thousands of faithful pilgrims from July 17 through July 26, the feast day of St. Ann on the Latin calendar (July 25 : Dormition of St. Ann on Eastern rite Calendar).  Novena week is observed with multiple daily Roman Catholic Masses and daily novena prayer services with inspirational preaching. Each year for four decades, a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy has also been featured.

The Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersery  presides at the Divine Liturgy with area priests and deacons as concelebrants, and altar servers and choir members assisting.   The photos seen below are a sample of the annual event, taken at the 2018 Liturgy with Bishop Kurt Burnett as the main celebrant.  The Passionist preachers for the 2018 novena were Rev. Don Ware, C.P. and Rev. Michael Rowe, C.P..   The Rev. Don Ware, C.P. is pictured below with Bishop Kurt.

Photos appear in sequential order including:  the great incensing of the church and faithful, chanting of litanies, the Epistle and Gospel readings, homily, singing of the Nicene Creed, the Anaphora (Eucharistic prayers) and Epiclesis (consecration of the Holy Eucharist), and following the Liturgy were the closing with novena prayers and blessing with relic of St. Ann.

 

   For a description of the history of the Divine Liturgy during St. Ann novena week: click here.

†   Click on any photo to open to Slide Photo View

RIVER BLESSING 2018


SUNDAY    JANUARY 28 , 2018
CANCELLED for 2018
Nesbitt Park Boat Launch, Kingston, Pa

CLICK HERE to see photos showing the severe ice jam on the river in Jan 2018


 

With the recent unpredictability of ice jams in the river, we were very
concerned about continuing with this event .  Even as the ice jam threat has lessened at this time, it is far too dangerous to proceed.  Our prayers were and continue to be for all those living along the river and in other potential flood zones.  River flooding and threats of flooding are very stressful for everyone in our area, and our focus at this time is on prayer for all who are affected in any way, and for future protection of all.  

We especially thank all workers in emergency management,
disaster relief and preparedness, law enforcement and all first responders, and public officials for the services provided during this time.  We thank also those volunteers and workers who served in any other way, including our local media broadcasters for their role in communication.

 

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Blessing the water that will be intermingled with the river.  In addition, a blessed ice cross will also be tossed into the water.

 

 

 

Susquehanna in Pittston (1024x647)

A view of the Susquehanna in Pittston looking south.  A tranquil river in late summer.