During Holy Week, the collaboratives are ready to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ.
''I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:15)
On Ash Wednesday, some six weeks ago, we heard the call to conversion of heart, a call to prayer, fasting and alms giving. Each one of us, I suspect, gave particular thought to what we could do to make this Lent a time of renewal and deepening of our relationship with Christ. In addition to whatever individual sacrifices or actions we may have decided upon, parishes throughout the archdiocese as well as in the collaboratives have offered a variety of spiritual exercises/activities.
The Light is On For You and 24 Hours for the Lord were two programs that the archdiocese promoted. They gave people the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as well as the opportunity for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It was wonderful that so many people took advantage of these experiences.
In addition to those programs, many collaboratives held traditional weekly Stations of the Cross, or "Soup and Stations." Many collaboratives held Lenten missions. Some were based on the themes of discipleship or the new evangelization. Others chose particular Lenten themes such as conversion, prayer, fasting and alms giving.
Because Lent is a time when people are looking for ways to refocus their lives and hearts to a more intentional way of following Christ, a few collaboratives used this Lent to initiate programs such as Alpha, Evangelical Catholic or Christ Life. In each of the places where one of those programs was held, the pastors and staffs were pleasantly surprised at the number of people in attendance and their engagement in the process.
One collaborative began a weekly column in their bulletin called "Question of the Week." They invite parishioners first to listen to the gospel reading on Sunday. Then there is one question geared for children, one for youth and one for adults to think about in relation to one's own life based on the week's gospel passage. Another collaborative began a weekly column in their bulletin that is called "Collaborative Faith Stories." This is another form of witness talk, one that is written, and makes it easier for a person to speak of their faith but may be uncomfortable with public speaking! These faith stories are written by parishioners and/or staff. In the column, the writer may share an experience when they came to know and love Christ or they may relate the way their life is different because of their relationship with Christ.
Everything that was offered in the collaboratives for Lent was intended to assist people in rooting out of their lives those things that hinder a deep and loving relationship with Christ. During Holy Week, the collaboratives are ready to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. Many of the multiple parish collaboratives offer one celebration of the Holy Week services rather than have services in each church. Morning prayer or Stations of the Cross may be offered in one of the churches and the services are offered in the other church. This is done to help strengthen the community of faith by coming together rather than being separated. When Lent and Holy Week have engaged parishioners in their faith, people's lives will reflect that difference in the way they speak and act as a disciple. By the time Lent is over and Holy Week is complete, Easter Sunday is not seen as an end but rather as the beginning of a whole new way of life. To that we say yes and Alleluia!
Sister Pat Boyle is associate director of the Archdiocese of Bostonís Office of Pastoral Planning.