By Matthew D. Ruhl, SJ
Monday/April 2, 2018/Belize City, Belize
Wednesday: On Wednesday of Holy Week the Diocese traditionally celebrates the Chrism Mass, a Mass at which all the priests gather with the Faithful. The Bishop provides a noon meal for the priests. Then we gather again at the Cathedral for the Mass at 6 p.m. It is a hopeful occasion with priests renewing their Priestly Promises before the Bishop blesses the Holy Oils used throughout the year.
Holy Thursday: This year Holy Thursday took on a particularly somber tone that reflected the realities of Belize City. Thus far in 2018, the City Council staff has lost four employees to murder. They called Martin’s, requesting a Memorial Mass. We obliged. Then we had to bury yet another parishioner who had been bludgeoned to death with a frying pan and a stool at his home. He was a businessman in his 60s and robbery the motive. At last, in the evening, we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It was my honor to wash the feet of 12 people who will be joining the Church at the Vigil on Saturday night.
Good Friday: Good Friday at Martin’s is particularly beautiful. At 1:30 pm about 100 parishioners pray the Stations of the Cross by processing around the neighborhood to predetermined outdoor stations. It takes an hour-and-a-half to do all the stations, pray all the prayers, sing all our songs. When the Stations of the Cross conclude, we return to the church to celebrate Good Friday’s Passion of the Lord, a service that includes the Veneration of the Cross. Few things evoke the kind of pathos I feel when I see the old, young, crippled, sick, and poor all venture up to venerate the cross. There is such a purity in the prayers of suffering people. From my presider’s chair I watched the faces of the faithful come forward. There was not an ounce of nonchalance. Not a bit of “What are we doing this for?” I saw only humility, the kind of humility that comes with understanding the suffering of Christ on the Cross.
The Easter Vigil: My friend Fr. Quang Tran, S.J. answered the call at the Easter Vigil: He sang the Exsultet and sang it wonderfully. Every year I fret about that most lovely but difficult Easter Proclamation. “Q to the rescue,” that’s all I can say! But Angie to the rescue as well. Our Easter Candle failed to arrive in the order placed earlier this month. Angie found a Martin’s teacher, Karen Garcia, who was visiting Chetumal, Mexico, on Holy Thursday. And Ms. Garcia came through like a champ, finding us a beautiful Easter Candle. We brought 14 catechumens into the church at the Vigil. Life! Hope!
Easter Sunday: Two Masses and an Easter egg hunt, after which Fr. Q went to the Caye with some friends and I stayed home to enjoy Cardinal baseball and some sweet solitude.
On Monday morning, I am now on my way to Merida, Mexico, with the Jesuit Community of Belize for a little much needed post-Holy Week/Easter R&R.
HAPPY EASTER SEASON TO ONE AND ALL.