Archbishop on Holy Week: Embrace the Cross

The Guam replica of the original, international World Youth Day Cross is shown outside Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church grounds in this Umatuna file photo during 2010 Guam World Youth Day hosted by Toto parish on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010. Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament parish hosts WYD today. (Umatuna Si Yu’os file photo by Tony C. Diaz/

By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os

As the Catholic Church ushers in Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday today, April 9, 2017, Archbishop Michael Byrnes reminds all Catholics of our sinfulness and how we are redeemed through Jesus and the unifying grace of the Cross.

Ephesians, Chapter 2 came to mind as Archbishop Byrnes took a moment with the Umatuna Si Yu’os this week to reflect on Holy Week and our Lenten journey toward the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter.

“God’s plan is to unite all things in Christ and Jesus does that through the Cross,” -Archbishop Byrnes said.

“He brings together Jew and Gentile – the whole human race. He brings them all together in the Cross. He breaks down the wall of division that separates us.”

“That wall of division is really sin. Sin is what divides us,” the archbishop said. “And Jesus by His death and resurrection destroys the power of sin. It does not mean we are not still subject to it, but its power is gone in that sin leads to death but through Jesus, we have the opportunity for forgiveness.”

“It’s the free grace of forgiveness that God offers to us and the only price is our faith,” he said. “(By) entrusting ourselves back to God that destroys the power of death, it undoes sin and there … creates that space, that unity of all peoples to heaven.”

Throughout the world, the Catholic Church celebrates Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday today. The Church will enter into Holy Week in anticipation of Easter.

The period of Holy Week marks the Church’s most solemn and holy celebration of the Paschal Mystery: Christ’s Passion in his suffering and death, culminating in his glorious Resurrection.

Six months since being appointed the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Agana as Coadjutor Archbishop by Pope Francis on Oct. 31, Archbishop Byrnes will preside in numerous liturgies connected to Holy Week. He will celebrate 9:30 a.m. Mass during Palm Sunday at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna. Later, he’ll join hundreds of youth and young adults in the annual World Youth Day celebration hosted by Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament parish at Bishop Baumgartner Memorial School starting 11:30 a.m.

Archbishop Byrnes will gather with priests from throughout our archdiocese for the blessing of the Holy Oils during the annual Chrism Mass set for 6 p.m. on Holy Wednesday, April 12 at the Cathedral-Basilica.

“In our Chrism Mass, we anoint, we consecrate the Oil of Chrism and bless the oils that will be used throughout the archdiocese for this year,” Archbishop Byrnes said.

“The consecration of the Chrism, the blessing of the oils signifies that we share in the one Sacrament; the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation,” he said. “These things, this oil, this Chrism tangibly unites us in the unity of the Church.”

During the Chrism Mass worldwide, priests renew their priestly promises of celibacy and obedience. “We repeat the promises that we made and we rededicate ourselves,” Archbishop Byrnes said.

Holy Thursday marks the celebration of the institution of the Eucharist and will set in motion the Holy Triduum.  “The summit of the Liturgical Year is the Easter Triduum — from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday,” explains the website of the United States Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at .