Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Good Friday and Easter

Celebrating the Triduum in villages in the parish of Dulce Nombre has been one of the highlights of my ministry here over the past five years.

When I looked at the communities that didn’t have a visit from a communion minister for the Triduum, I noted Debajiados, one of the poorest communities in the parish and is definitely one of the remotest. I had visited there in December and had to travel the last half hour on a mule. Friday I could drive all the way there, since it had not rained for a day and a half and the road had dried out. It was, though, 27 kilometers from Dulce Nombre.

Vitalino, a leader in a nearby community, had been there on Thursday helping them, since they had not had any pastoral presence for two years until the parish of Dulce Nombre began to visit the village last October.

We used the Good Friday liturgy – Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross, and Communion.

An adolescent woman helped with some readings and did very well, though an older man who was in charge of some of the pastoral work there struggled with the readings. (One of our real problems is the difficulty many pastoral workers have reading in public, since most have little or no formal education.)

The church has no crucifix and so we used a simple cross for the veneration. I invited them to come and touch or kiss the cross, recognizing how Jesus shares their pain and sorrow. It was touching to see them come up, at least one mother carrying her baby.

I must try to get back there, since there is a real need to help this community.

Saturday afternoon I headed out to Dulce Nombre for the Easter Vigil.

I got there early to practice the Exultet, the Easter Prayer at the Paschal Candle, with Ronal, a very accomplished musician.

We worked with the music and text, although Ronal cannot read music. He did, though, mention how he would like to learn.

Then about 6 pm I headed out to the field, about 3 kilometers from the Dulce Nombre church, where the lighting of the fire and the blessing of the Paschal Candle would start the vigil.

When I arrived, Padre German was already there and the Fire had been lighted. The people were singing. After a while the vigil began with the blessing of the fire, the lighting of the candle, and the procession.

We arrived at the church a little after 8.

After the Exultet, we listened to all the readings for the Vigil. The Easter water was blessed and Padre German sprinkled us generously with the water. The Eucharist followed.

After all ended about 11:15, a group from a distant community came up to Padre German and said they had someone to be baptized. A break-down of communications. It would have been better if she had been baptized within the liturgy.

I got to bed after midnight and rose about 6:30, awakened by a bright sun.

It was a beautiful Day of the Resurrection and I enjoyed the 17 kilometer drive out to Joyas Galanas (elegant jewels?).

As I entered the church I was surprised to see the image of Jesus in purple carrying the cross in front of the altar. I mentioned something to Teresa, one of the church leaders there, suggesting they move it. It was a case of putting my foot in the mouth, since this was the only image they have and usually have it in front of the altar. I apologized and merely suggested that they find a white cape to put over Jesus to celebrate the risen Lord.

Despite this, the Liturgy of the Word went well and I emphasized that Easter is the celebration of God’s working to show us that death and violence are not he final word: there is Life.  At communion, I nearly ran out of consecrated Hosts.

But I noticed that a bunch of guys was standing outside the church, looking in and listening. But I reached out the window and greeted them during the greeting of peace. I later asked Teresa why they were outside. I thought this was just another group of young males who are somewhat embarrassed about being though “religious.” They are the sons of families in the village who belong to the evangelical church, she told me. But they seem to be interested in what the Catholics are doing and had even come into the church for the Easter Vigil.

But one of the most touching moments was walking down from the church. I was talking with two women, Maria Francisca and Maria (perhaps her daughter), who were conservatively dressed in colorful dresses (looking very much like the indigenous Lenca in other parts of Honduras.) To her delight I told the older woman that she and the pope shared a name. As we parted the younger woman pressed two five lempira bills in my hand. I thought that I shouldn’t take them – and made a remark to that point – my third faux pas on the day. I finally realized that I needed to take them. I needed to let myself be served by these people.

After coffee I headed out to Gracias where the Dubuque Franciscan sisters there shared a great lunch. Seven of us sat around the table – three sisters from the US, a novice and a postulant from Honduras, and a US volunteer with the sisters, and me. I had time to talk after lunch with two of the sisters – they are really a significant support for me here.

Then I drove back to Santa Rosa.

I had been a great Triduum, chance to celebrate with some many.

Thanks be to God.


My reflection on Holy Thursday can be found here.

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