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Holy Week is a time of renewal

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from Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church
The story of Jesus’ suffering and death are at the heart of Christian faith. They are at the heart of our very existence and meaning. In the course of our busy week, we most likely have times set apart for certain things that are important to us – a workout, a few social phone calls/meals with loved ones, or maybe even a short catnap – so that we can renew ourselves, our energy and our outlook.
Holy Week is a time that is set apart in our church’s liturgical year for our spiritual renewal. In fact, the word holy refers to anything that is set apart for God’s purposes. Holy Week is holy precisely because it is time that is set apart for us to focus on how we are spiritually renewed through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Symbols of Holy Week
The liturgies of Holy Week are filled with some of the richest and most ancient symbols of the Catholic faith. The gospels tell us Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, which emphasized the humility that was to characterize the kingdom he proclaimed.
The waving of palms on Passion (Palm) Sunday reminds us that we are called to be followers of Jesus, not just fans who cheer from a distance. This Sunday is also called Passion Sunday, which marks the beginning of Jesus’ agonizing journey to the cross. The English word passion comes from a Latin word that means “to suffer,” the same word from which we derive the English word “patient.”
The washing of feet on Holy Thursday reminds us of the spirit of servanthood that we are called to practice in imitation of Jesus described in John 13:34-35.
In some church traditions, all the altar coverings and decorations are removed after the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy Thursday. This “stripping of the altar” symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers prior to his crucifixion. 
The stations of the cross on Good Friday bring to mind the pain and humiliation of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial and death, with the silent hope of the resurrection subtly tucked into the subconscious.
Holy Saturday is traditionally a day of quiet meditation as Christians contemplate hopelessness in a world without God.
The lighting of the Easter fire in a darkened church and the celebration of baptisms during the Easter Vigil parallel the brilliant new life that is ours because of Jesus’ triumph over the darkness of sin and death through his resurrection.
Make space to renew faith
In her book “The Holy Way,” Paula Huston explains that “a cluttered and overburdened mental space can be one of the biggest obstacles to simple living.”
Do you want to set aside “holy time” during Holy Week to spend with Jesus? Perhaps time apart to unclutter your mind, lay your burdens at the foot of the cross and renew your faith in Jesus is just what you need.
As St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in thee.”
Join us at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 7095 Waxhaw Highway (S.C. 75), for these Holy Week services:
• Palm Sunday: March 23, Mass at 4 and 5:30 p.m.; March 24, Mass at 7, 9 and 11 a.m.
• Holy Thursday: March 29, adoration at the Altar of Repose at 8 p.m.
• Good Friday: March 30, confession at 10:30 a.m., 1 and 4 p.m.; stations of the cross at noon stations of the cross, Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3 p.m.
• Holy Saturday: March 31, Great Easter Vigil at 8 p.m.
• Easter Sunday: April 1, Mass at 7, 9 and 11 a.m.