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Holy Week - Passover Message from President Daniel J. Elsener - 4/2/2012

President Daniel J. Elsener This week, Christians around the world will celebrate the solemn feasts which comprise Holy Week, culminating with a joyous mass on Easter Sunday. Bishop Thomas Tobin, Diocese of Providence, notes that at the core of Holy Week rests “the Paschal Mystery, in which Jesus suffered and died for our sins and then rose again in glory. These are the events that manifested God’s special love for us, events that accomplished our salvation. These are the events that form the heart of the Christian Faith.”

On Friday, our Jewish sisters and brothers will similarly mark the start of Passover, the solemn feast which Rabbi Sharon Brous describes as "the centerpiece of the Jewish moral imagination and the Jewish collective memory." Rabbi Brous explains that the significance and power of Passover lies, in part, in the celebration of “the idea that it's possible to move from slavery to freedom and from darkness to light and from despair to hope.”

In our respective faith traditions, Christians and Jews will celebrate the great freedom which our God grants to us out of His Infinite Love. For the Jewish community, this freedom is one from oppression, from being “the other,” from brokenness. For Christians, this freedom is from the fear of death, from eternal separation from God. Yet, of this freedom, Rabbi Barry Leff reminds us all that it is “not simply a ‘freedom from’ […] but more than that, it is ‘freedom to’—freedom to serve God.”

In these coming days, let us all strive to remember that the freedom which God grants to us—the freedom which allows us to live our lives in safety and security, to explore and gain understanding of the beauty of creation, to live as authentic beings—is also the freedom which affords us the opportunity to say thank you to God; to be God’s hands in the world; to love one another as God loves us; and to be good stewards of our many gifts, employing them to the benefit of all God’s people. Let us freely choose to unite our hearts to God, our Father, of whom Pope Benedict XVI so movingly writes, “He continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to Him. . . . And yet—is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love.”

I encourage everyone to participate in the liturgical and prayer life of Marian University, especially this week in the Holy Week liturgies/services scheduled in the Bishop Chartrand Chapel in Marian Hall. The dates and times are as follows:

April 5, 4 p.m. - Holy Thursday Mass
April 6, 1 p.m. - Good Friday Service
April 7, 8:30 p.m. - Easter Vigil Mass
April 8, 11:30 a.m. - Easter Sunday Mass

I pray this Holy Week or Passover enriches your spiritual life and brings you greater clarity in discerning what you are called to do in service of our God.

May God bless you, your families, and all you hold dear.