The Power and the Glory

March 25-31, 2004
The Power and the Glory
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
Religious Education Office Offers Classes on the Meaning of Holy Week Liturgies

Endwell — The Lenten release of the movie, The Passion of the Christ has sparked an interest in the suffering and death of Jesus. People are talking about how the film has had an impact on their faith. It also left many wanting to know more. In less than two weeks, the faithful will take part in liturgies to celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, His passion, death and resurrection. There’s still time to explore Holy Week through a session offered by the Southern Region Religious Education Office.

On March 31 at Christ the King Church, “The Liturgies of Holy Week” will explore the events of that week and how they are reflected in the liturgies. Sister Lois Barton, CSJ, Southern Region Religious Education Director, will present the two-hour session. It’s an adaptation of a similar course she gave to high school students at the parish level several years ago. The focus is Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. “We will spend time on each of the four days,” Sister Lois said, “examining the scenes with which we are so familiar, going deeper into the experiences of those days and putting ourselves in the situations to see what feelings and insights might emerge that we have not considered before. In this way, the actual ritual celebrations of these days may be fuller this year.”

Sister Lois welcomes any interested teens or adults to attend the session. She notes that the church looks for the faithful to “full, conscious and active participation” in liturgies. She adds that it is appropriate that members of the faithful increase their understanding of the ritual. “This session will not be an intellectual exercise but rather a reflective looking at what happened and how it relates to us. This process has worked with teens in the past. I think we need to invite them to participate with the adult community in this kind of experience,” she said. Sister Lois sees the session as a great opportunity for catechists as well.

“The Holy Week liturgies are rich with the stories of the Paschal Mystery and the actions that bring the events of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection present to us today. Any catechist can benefit from participation in this reflection and share the fruit in classes on Palm Sunday and beyond,” she said. The course provides two hours credit toward Advanced Catechetical Certification. That’s the second level of certification for catechists, who must complete 30 hours of basic courses before moving to the advanced courses. There are a number of topics offered for ongoing formation, such as morality and methodology. The latest course is only the third in two years to focus on liturgy.

“The word ‘catechesis’ means to echo and that is what catechists do: they echo God’s word in their teaching. In order to echo the Word, we must first hear it. We can do this in many ways but most directly in the celebration of the word at liturgy,” said Sister Lois. Sister Lois emphasized the importance of catechesis for adults as well as young people. “In the Religious Education Office, we continue our attempts to heed the vision of the U.S. bishops, enunciated in their 1999 document, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, calling for pastoral planning for adult faith formation. We are also conscious of developments in the area of liturgical catechesis and, most recently, whole community catechesis, which involves all generations in the parish in the deepening of the faith,” she said. “Any time we can offer an experiential glimpse into the story of our faith, we do so in the hope that those who participate will grow in their understanding that religious education is not just about information and classes. It is much more than that and fulfills the definition of the Latin word educere, to lead out. We lead out of the darkness of ignorance into the wonderful light of God,” Sister Lois said.

“The Liturgies of Holy Week” will be held at Christ the King Church in Endwell on March 31. There is a suggested donation of $5. People interested in the session are asked to call the Religious Education Resource Center at (607)786-9649.

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