Happy Holy Week, Happy Easter and Happy Eastertide!

By Canon Philip Gillespie

We use the word 'happy' quite generously at this time of year – but of course the problem with happy is that it can be subject to the cold winds of reality, and our moods can swing from happy to sad in an instant. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why in the recent retranslation of the Missal, 'happy' was replaced by 'blessed' in the invitation to receive Holy Communion: "Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb."

The supper to which we refer is, at first hearing, the supper known as the Last Supper, which we celebrate on the Thursday of Holy Week and which we celebrate constantly whenever the Church gathers for Mass – both in our faithfulness to the command of the Lord to "Do this in memory of me" and, more importantly and fundamentally, Jesus's faithfulness to his promise that "I am with you always".

Blessedness is our closeness to God, the putting in right relation of our actions and our attitudes. It is the gratuitous and loving gift of God's own love – or as Cardinal Newman puts it in a hymn often used in our parishes over these days: "Praise to the Holiest in the height ... O loving wisdom of our God."

The Christian faith tends to talk more about 'joy' than happiness. Joy runs a little deeper too. Its source is to be found deep down, rather than on the surface where it can be increased by some circumstances or swept away by others. The source of joy is to be found in what we believe, and it is unaffected by the events of today or the fears of tomorrow. Joy is like an underground river whose power can be heard if you press your ear to the ground.

I wish you the Joy of a Blessed Holy Week, Easter and Eastertide!