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By Fr. Clifford Howell, SJ

Reprint; 1957


WATCH an interview about this book with the publisher


As its title suggests, this book is a great resource for preparing for the Church’s climax of the Liturgical Year, Easter—our joyous redemption through Christ’s Resurrection.


Starting on Septuagesima Sunday and through a series of sermons, Fr. Clifford Howell explains the significance of the Holy Week Rites—particularly of the Easter Vigil (see the Table of Contents page image for details).


The author particularly emphasizes an awareness of the biblical types from the Old Testament (e.g., Noah, Abraham, and Moses) and events (e.g., Creation, the Flood, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, etc.,) which as prefigurements are contrasted in the Holy Week Rites.


To provide an example of Fr. Howell's approach, some page images from the chapter for Passion Sunday on the "Content of the Vigil" have been provided above.


In his masterful Foreword, Fr. Howell explains:


This book has been written for the purpose of fostering appreciation for the great liturgical treasure which we have received from His Holiness Pope Pius XII in the form of the Restored Order of Holy week, and of enabling both clergy and laity to take part in all its rites with more profit through a deepened understanding of their content and implications. (...)


The restoration of the Vigil to its former hour and the revision of its text were dictated by no mere concern for archeology; the predominant motive has been pastoral; what is sought is primarily the good of souls.


The way to attain this object, is, then, to eliminate the "detriment to the original symbolism"—that is, to make the symbolism, now revised and restored, do very thoroughly what it is designed to do. It is meant to signify to the people the great spiritual reality which underlies the whole rite. What is required, then, is the maximum of understanding by the people of what it is all about. (...)


It is imperative, therefore, that the appreciation which the faithful now have of this ceremony [the restored Easter Vigil] should be deepened; they must be helped to penetrate through these externals, and to achieve that renewal of mind and heart and will which alone constitutes the genuine good of their souls. (...)


...What is required for them is a true spiritual resurrection, a vivid re-incorporation into Christ by their paschal Communion, a determined grip on their baptismal obligations, a new and profound adhesion to Christ their Savior and their Head, a fresh dedication to a holy Christian life.


This must not be a mere arousing of emotions, just some sort of pious thrill passing in its effects. Nor is it to be just an affair of morals. It is to be something actually effected in their souls. This it is which ought to be the result of their participation in Holy Week; the rites are to be the external sign of this inward reality—they are meant to be sacramental.


This is precisely what we are told by the Decretum [which promulgated the reform] itself; the liturgical ceremonies of Holy Week "have not only a singular dignity, but are endowed with a sacramental efficacy and power to nourish the Christian life."


The rites [of Holy Week], however beautiful, can never produce such a deep effect on people who do not appreciate their full significance. That is why it is important that people be instructed beforehand. They must be helped to discover, within the rites and texts, the salvific effects—the divine action—which is at work in the celebration of the paschal Mysteries. To these they must open their mind and hearts; to these they must respond with their wills from the very depths of their being.


The eight Sunday morning sermons will give, I hope, an understanding of the Easter Mysteries which is correct, as far as it goes, to those who receive no other instruction.


Fr. Howerll also includes many suggestions for priests on how to instruct the faithful and offers 3 appendixes with practical tips about the ceremonies.


184 pages. 13mb.

Preparing for Easter PDF BK

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