Martina Hart Photo
Bishop Mark Brennan blesses the faithful gathered for Palm Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Church in Huntington March 28. See story on Page 3.
By Martina Hart
Bishop Mark E. Brennan celebrated the various liturgies of Holy Week with the people of different parishes in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on church attendance and social distancing guidelines, seating in the various venues has remained limited. However, West Virginia Catholics have been able to follow many of the Masses via livestream on the diocese’s website at www.dwc.org.
On Palm Sunday, March 28, Bishop Brennan presided over Masses at noon at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston and at 5:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Church in Huntington. In his Palm Sunday homily Bishop Brennan pointed out how the various scenes of St. Mark’s passion narrative display that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The crowds switch from shouting “hosanna” to “crucify him.” The disciples leave Jesus. Peter denies him. Despite finding no charge, Pontius Pilate hands him over to be crucified.
“In contrast, Jesus’ spirit makes his weak flesh obey him,” Bishop Brennan said. “The cry ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ reveals his acute inner anguish, greater than his physical pain. And yet his spirit keeps his flesh from rebelling,” he said.
Jesus emptied himself of his divine prerogative, assumed lowly human nature, and out of love suffered and died. “The father approves his son’s sacrifice by raising him from the dead, answering Jesus’ anguished question from the cross and showing us how we will enter eternal life,” Bishop Brennan said. The Eucharist, he added, “gives our spirit strength to compel our body to imitate Jesus’ humility, his honesty, his mercy, and his patience.”
He concluded with these reflective questions: “Will we follow him? Will we shout crucify him or cry out hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord?”
On Monday, March 29, Bishop Brennan celebrated the Chrism Mass at the basilica, where he gathered with the priests of the southern and central regions of the diocese. On March 30, he returned to Wheeling for the celebration of Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph gathering with the priests of the northern and eastern regions of the diocese.
During the annual Chrism Mass, the bishop blesses the Holy Oils: the Oil of the Sick, used for anointing the sick, and the Oil of Catechumens, used for the anointing of infants and adults who are preparing for baptism. He then mixes balsam and olive oil and consecrates it as chrism. This fragrant oil is used for anointing during the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination and during the dedication of altars and churches.
During this Mass the priests renew their commitment to priestly service, their dedication to Christ and his church. The bishop also asks the lay faithful present to support their bishop and priests in their ministry.
On Holy Thursday, Bishop Brennan celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the cathedral. The people of Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in Weirton were to welcome Bishop Brennan to their church on Good Friday, April 2, for the Celebration of the Lord’s the Passion at 7 p.m.
On Holy Saturday, the bishop will be in Wheeling to celebrate the Easter Vigil at 8 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Church. He returns to the cathedral for the celebration of the Mass on Easter Sunday at 10:30 a.m. which will be televised live and broadcasted on WTRFDT3/ABC in the Wheeling area and WBOYDT/ABC for the Clarksburg area and livestreamed on the diocese’s website.
The livestreaming and broadcast of the Holy Week celebrations are sponsored by the Welty Corporation.