Letters from Seminary: Burmester

Awe and reverence on display during Holy Week services

Published: April 18, 2015

By William Burmester
Diocesan Seminarian

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“The Blood of Christ,” I said as I passed the cup to the nervous hands of the ones who entered into the Church on Easter Vigil. This was the first time they were able to receive the body and blood of Christ, and I saw in their faces and heard in their “Amen” the sacredness of this moment.

Their nervousness was not in regard to the proper way to receive the Eucharist, they had already practiced this, but their nervousness was rooted in their awe of encountering Christ in such an intimate way.

It was humbling for me to be a part of that special moment by being an extraordinary minister of the blood of Christ. This was one of the many touching moments I experienced during Holy Week.

During my week back home, I was fortunate enough to help serve during the Easter Triduum and Easter Masses. After Holy Thursday Mass, I entered into the chapel and was struck by the number of people who stayed to pray.

During the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, I helped hold the cross to be venerated and I was blessed with the opportunity to witness the way in which people honored Christ. I was moved to tears as those who are infi rmed delicately venerated a cross they had kissed many times before.

Then I noticed the reaction of the children. Their parents would pick them up, and they would cautiously give Christ a kiss. Many of them smiled and I saw an innocence in their reverence that brought joy to my heart.

Each person venerated the cross in a unique way, and I was fortunate to be in a position to assist them in their worship. Finally on Easter Sunday, our Lent had been completed. We could sing our “Alleluias” and enter into the joy of the resurrection.

There was a joy and energy in the air of the packed Sunday Masses. It was an awesome sight to see the church filled to capacity. Once Mass was ended I went outside to greet people and many came up to give me hugs, handshakes, encouraging words or let me know of their prayers.

I was touched by the generosity and joy of each parishioner that I talked with that morning. And now as I continue my studies back at the seminary, I have these memories to give me hope that one day I will be able to celebrate Holy Week as a priest and serve the people who have filled my heart with joy and showed me the beauty of awe and reverence.

William Burmester, a member of St. Joseph Church in Conway, is a diocesan seminarian, attending St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. This article was originally published in Arkansas Catholic. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. This article may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.