For many years, this week has been the most intense, the most emotional, and the most stressful time of the year. For clergy in Catholic tradition, the observance of Holy Week is at the same time the ultimate spiritual experience and professionally the most demanding few days one can imagine.
I used to be responsible for making sure that a whole week of services happened, from the “light into dark” of the Palm/Passion Sunday liturgy through the gathering darkness of the week to the blackness of Good Friday — and then to the new fire, and the glories of Easter Day. One of the secrets of clergy life is that Holy Week is never complete until the priest has completed the final act — the liturgy of the Holy Face Plant!
I rejoiced to be a part of this for many years, even as it was so exhausting physically, but spiritually fulfilling.
This year is different. I am not responsible for anything except for a few assigned roles. The pressure is off! That’s a good thing, to some extent. Except… I am feeling this lack of pressure rather keenly. Holy Week seems a little emptier this year, and I have to realize that this will be the case in the future. This year, for the first time in a quarter-century, I skipped the Maundy Thursday service in favour of family commitments. I am happy to be with my family, but I look at posts of pictures from services, and I know what I am missing.
Professional or vocational responsibilities are one thing. My spiritual life is another. The years ahead will help me find a new balance, when the one that is now so much less has probably outweighed the other in the years past.
I will be part of the rest of the paschal liturgies: Good Friday, the Great Vigil of Easter, and the glories of Easter Sunday. That will be good!