“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength.” ---St. Philip Neri
As a high school principal, former athlete and coach I have grown to appreciate more and more the value of team, fraternity, and love/sacrifice for family, friends and teammates. Our “Me” Generation screams, contradictory, that our successes are and always will be because of me. But, we all know that this is absurd. Real success and more importantly, real happiness, is due to the community working together, solving problems together, celebrating together……being together. What we miss most when those precious times of shared “work” are over, are the people we shared them with.
The people you “played the game” with.
I have to think that this same truth holds true for the person of Christ, that He SO loved the people He played the game with.
Think about Holy Thursday.
On that evening 2000 years ago, Christ institutes the Last Supper, eating and drinking with his favorite friends, his closest disciples. The King of the Universe and the BIGGEST Best Friend we will EVER have washed his closest friend’s feet, the very same friends that would betray him in the ensuing next 24 hours. In John’s Chapter 13-17, known as the Upper Room Discourse, Christ will assure the disciples of His love, over and over and over, ultimately calling them, “no longer servants…but friends.” (John 15:15)
Did you hear that?
We are friends of Jesus.
I AM a friend of Jesus.
Let that sink in.
It should follow, that if I am a friend of Jesus, I should want to be with Jesus……constantly. And if I know that my best friend is going to die, going to die for ME, then I really want to be with Jesus as long as I can before he faces that death for me. So many of our students at Royalmont Academy really understand this concept. And so they wanted to do something EXTRA special for Christ this Holy Week; something that they could give Him to really show their thanks for His incredible sacrifice and love, especially leading into His Passion when He is abandoned by those especially closest friends he celebrated on Holy Thursday.
So taking the cue from St. Philip Neri, we decided to befriend Christ on Holy Thursday. (much more than I as a cradle-Catholic have ever done before!) St. Philip lived in Rome in the mid-16th Century and during his life he began the tradition off the Seven Church Pilgrimage. http://www.todayscatholicnews.org/2017/04/a-holy-thursday-tradition-pilgrimage-to-seven-churches/ We decided we would do the same, visiting six Cincinnati area churches together as a high school (we would all do our 7th church with our family at our parish church) giving our time, prayer and friendship to Christ in the Eucharist in all those churches.
Too often, us adults can forget the insights that teens have about friendship. Their world is made up of social relationships that they interact in day after day after day. They are privileged to have a very real insight into the experience of friendship, which in some ways is more perfect than ours as adults. What better way for teens to grow in their relationship with Christ than to go to Him with their friends and classmates on the eve of His greatest sacrifice to us, His Passion?
So, thirty-five Royalmont Academy high school students visited Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in seven local Cincinnati Catholic churches last Holy Thursday.
They laughed with each other…… and with Christ.
They prayed with each other…… and with Christ.
They learned with each other…..and with Christ.
Christ invited them to experience Himself, maybe more deeply than ever before, during our Holy Thursday pilgrimage and they got each other, maybe more deeply than ever before, in the process.
These students learned more about their Catholic faith, they learned more about the Catholic tradition here in Cincinnati, they learned more about what true friendship is all about all because they were willing do something different for Christ this Holy Week.
I pray your experience with Christ this Holy Thursday was just as precious.