This morning I drove toward Mt. Irenaeus in with a hint of snow in the air and a pall of overcast. It didn’t look like an idyllic Palm Sunday. Our liturgy began in the library under Holy Peace Chapel. Fr. Dan Riley, OFM blessed the palms and invited us to process outside, along the path and up the steps to the chapel. As we walked we sang, “oh Sacred Head surrounded by crown of piercing thorns, oh bleeding head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn…” It’s a song I remember well from my youth. The words of the song are ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux. That information was new to me but the symbolism was not lost as I am a frequent visitor to Trappist Abbeys.I was in the lead in today’s procession as we moved into the chapel holding our palm fronds. Today’s liturgy begins one of the holiest weeks in the Christian year. As I drove toward the Mountain today I reflected on that. The Triduum which begins later this week is my favorite time of the church year. The Palm Sunday liturgy is prelude those events. At Mt. Irenaeus where Christian mysticism is celebrated this prelude is pregnant with an invitation to fully experience the Triduum and reflect on the presence of the cosmic Christ.
Lots of thoughts milled about in my head today as I listened to the readings. Psalm 22 which formed today’s response is yet another invitation to the passion, death and resurrection. The familiar lament.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.–Psalm 22
Today’s Gospel reading was shared with St. Bonaventure University students. As young women who were culminating an overnight retreat read along with the celebrant I was struck by the parallel with the original story. It was women who stood at the foot of the cross as Christ was crucified. It was women who stood by him as Judas betrayed him and Peter ran away.
How often have women carried the Gospel to me and the rich symbolism wasn’t lost today. Perhaps someday the church will have an epiphany and consecrate women to the priesthood.