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FAITH AND CULTURE | Entering the Triduum with an open heart

Our culture thrives on competition, goal setting and big accomplishments. We know well the thrill of success and the agony of defeat. Whether as individuals or as a group, we value the victories that life brings our way. In short, we are ready and willing to give it our best efforts — even if the results are not always ideal.

This enthusiastic spirit is also present in our religious pursuits, especially when we think of our spiritual accomplishments or failures. We can recall the Lenten promises to give up or to take up something and ask ourselves what went well and what needed greater attention. Similarly, with Lent nearly behind us, we can become reflective and wonder whether our intentional days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving made a difference for us and others.

Moreover, we reflect on the experience of Palm Sunday. What remains in our mind and heart is the depiction of Jesus entering Jerusalem mounted on a colt. Perhaps we wonder how He might have felt about His ministry accomplishments up to this point. Projecting our own reflective spirit, we imagine that Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem must have been contemplative, even amid the shouts of elation and rejoicing: “When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel’” (John 12:12-16).

More sobering still is knowing and reflecting on what transpired after His entrance into Jerusalem. The Hosanna shouts of joy turned into cries of abandonment and even death on the cross: “They brought Him to the place of Golgotha — which is translated Place of the Skull —They gave Him wine drugged with myrrh, but He did not take it. Then they crucified Him” (Mark 14:1-15:47).

Given this Lenten journey of 40 days with Jesus, we can ask ourselves how faithful we have been in truly emptying ourselves in our intentional prayer, sacrificial fasting and generous almsgiving. What have been our “Hosanna!” and “Golgotha” moments? With Jesus, we can reflect on our successes and defeats.

Soon, we will be entering the Triduum. The forty days of Lent have brought us to this moment of deep contemplation, appraisal and appreciation. We will commemorate the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and learn anew to wash each other’s feet in mutual service. We will kneel and kiss the cross before us in total adoration. And the Easter Vigil’s fire will surely break our darkest night with the splendor of the radiant truth and light of the Risen Christ.

As we enter this Triduum prayer, may we transcend any human need for competition, busyness and self-aggrandizement. In the spirit of quiet and restful reflection, may we hear and embrace with an open heart the mystery of God’s love for each one of us: “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).

Javier Orozco is the executive director of human dignity and intercultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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