By Sister Mary Ann Walsh
We're off work Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, USCCB president, gave us Thursday off in honor of the election of Pope Francis. Good Friday always has been a holiday here. I hope giving us Holy Thursday as a day off continues. It is not a holy day of obligation, nor is Good Friday for that matter, but Holy Thursday is special to me. It celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, which lies at the heart of our Catholic faith. Maybe my warm feelings for the day go back to when I was a kid taking part in Holy Thursday processions and later as a teenager visiting churches to pray at beautifully decorated altars of repose.
A few years ago a young adult who wasn't a churchgoer asked if she could go to Mass with me on Holy Thursday. I said sure, but wondered why the sudden fervor. Come to find out that Holy Thursday was a big day when she was in college because students involved with campus ministry at her school followed the Mass of the Lord's Supper with a pizza party. I am sure there was some connection to the meal in the Upper Room with the disciples, a shared supper among close friends. My young friend couldn't articulate it, but she knew the day was special, even if Sunday Mass was not at that point in her life.
Pope Francis will continue the custom of leading the Stations of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum on Good Friday. The Vatican has released the prayers he will say at http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2013/documents/ns_lit_doc_20130329_via-crucis_en.html. The Vatican selects different groups of people annually to write the prayers. This year young people from Lebanon wrote them.
We're still debriefing after the papal transition. We've asked communications direrctors who were with us in Rome to come here in May for a post-up. It's not hard to get people to come to Washington in the spring. We're looking ahead too -- to the Catholic Media Convocation in Denver in June and World Youth Day with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in July. Working to spread the Gospel can be fun.
Have a blessed Triduum and a happy Easter.