Cardinal Timothy Dolan On the Significance of Holy Week

Mar 30, 2018

WBGO's Scott Pringle interviews Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

More than two billion Christians around the world are marking what they feel is the most important week in human history.  Holy week. It started with Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. The last supper with his disciples is known as Holy Thursday.  The following day, Good Friday, Jesus was crucified and then according to Christian gospels rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. Cardinal Timothy Dolan says these are not only impactful historic events to Christians centered around Jesus, but they have meaning in our lives today. 

“They are still happening.  Why are they still happening? They’re happening because he is the Son of God so everything he does is infinite and eternal value and they are still happening because he wants us to do it too.  Not that he wants us to be nailed to a cross, but he wants us to pick up our crosses every day, to die to selfishness and sin and Satan and to rise with him to a new life, not only here on earth but forever in heaven.” 

The New York Cardinal has been preaching for decades and feels at least in New York, the faith is alive and well during Holy Week. 

“They seem to come in greater numbers to what we call the liturgy.  It’s the public prayers of the church during Holy Week.   They seem to come in greater numbers to the sacrament of penance to tell Jesus they are sorry for the sins that put him on the cross.  On Monday of Holy Week, at the cathedral alone, I think we heard two-thousand confessions.  In a way, it’s a little easier to exercise the faith muscle at Easter than it is at Christmas because Christmas you have tons of distractions.”  

Christians traditionally focus on the crucifixion on Good Friday by attending church services that recall Jesus’ path to the cross in his final days on earth.  Cardinal Dolan points out that Christians traditional fast as a way to connect with Jesus on Good Friday.

“We try to get closer to Jesus on the cross and we say look Jesus on the cross, you said I thirst, your throat was parched so I am not going to take a drink today.  On the cross you had no food, they stuck a sponge in your mouth filled with vinegar, so I am going fast from food today.  You suffered hideously for me.  I could never go to that extreme.  I could at least cut down on my food.”

Dolan’s Easter message is hope. 

“We’re hearing about violence and evil and scandal and corruption and murder and accidents and tragedies and school shootings.  We are tempted to lose hope. We’re tempted to feel like Jesus on the cross that first Good Friday who said My God My God, why have you forsaken me?  But then we remember Easter and Easter always has the last word.”