Dear friends in Jesus Christ,
For Christians, Holy Week is the most sacred time of year. It’s a time to reflect on what the “good news” of Jesus Christ really means. C.S. Lewis once wrote that “Christianity is a thing of unspeakable joy. But it begins not in joy, but in wretchedness, and it does no good to try to get to the joy by bypassing the wretchedness.”
Jesus Christ lived for us; suffered and died for us, and then was raised up for us. And because of that truth — because of those facts of history — joy and hope have taken root in the world.
The real joy of the Gospel doesn’t happen at Christmas. It happens on the other side of Golgotha. The cross is the way Christ accomplishes our redemption. Only in being nailed to the wood with him, can we rise with him on Easter. In other words, there’s no resurrection without the crucifixion.
In offering God the personal sorrows and sufferings which each of us daily face, we join ourselves to Jesus and share in his sacrifice for the world … but we also share in the reward, for he draws us with him out of death into new life on Easter.
Therefore, when we speak about the Gospel message of joy and hope, this is what we mean: the joy of restored life; and our firm hope here and now that even in dying, we will live forever in the Lord.
As we begin the Sacred Triduum — the wonderful and moving sacramental celebrations of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil — may God grant all of us the gift of encountering Jesus Christ as savior … in the Eucharist, at the cross and beyond the empty tomb.
Jesus Christ is our deliverer! Jesus Christ is Lord! May his peace fill each one of you and those you love in the coming days, and throughout the Easter season.
Your brother in the Lord,
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia