Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


March Madness for the Church

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published March 28, 2013

March Madness is the name that most folks ordinarily give to the championship basketball games played by college and university teams throughout our nation at this time of the year. Many people who are not ordinarily sports enthusiasts dutifully fill out their brackets to see if they can correctly predict which college team will ultimately be triumphant. It has become the incontestable signal of the end of that particular sports season as we already now anticipate the beginning of the baseball season that lurks just around the corner.

Sports are an important part of almost every society, and they attract a lot of attention and generate a lot of enthusiasm and revenue. One sports season quickly transitions into another so much so that it seems that we are never without a team or an individual to cheer or fear!

This week is March Madness for the Church, and it has no competitor—this is simply the most important season of the Church calendar, and we already know who will be triumphant! Other weeks and seasons may dominate the liturgical calendar, but none is more significant than these seven days. Within this week, the Lord will accomplish His mission of salvation. He will achieve the purpose for which He was born and entered human history.

This statue of the Pieta is located at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

This statue of the Pieta is located at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

We call this week Holy Week because of the events that take place and the impact they can and hopefully will have on us all.

Jesus follows that ancient pattern of silent suffering. He is condemned for the guilty and takes our place in His sacrificial offering of Himself. We listen to the stories of faith that allow us to understand the depth of His love and mercy. We witness the institution of the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the Sacramental life of the Church that brings us renewal through the Easter rituals.

This week sorrow turns into joy, and hope is reinvigorated for all of the Church. Other seasons may receive greater hype, but none of them is equal to this one week of the year that gives us all our identity as Christian people.

This year it may be called “March Madness,” but other years this most important week occurs in the month of April. Whenever it takes place, Holy Week renews the very heart of the Church in ways that other celebrations simply cannot replicate.

Our parishes are busy with the preparations that will make this time special for all of our people. I thank all of our priests, deacons, women and men religious, lay staff and parish volunteers who give so generously of themselves during these hectic but wonderful days. There is an excitement to this time of year that indicates that something truly extraordinary is taking place—and it is. We don’t need brackets or other expressions of anticipation to heighten our enthusiasm. We will celebrate with the ancient symbols of our faith that remind us of Christ’s triumph and of our transformation in His Church.

A blessed and holy Easter season to all of you, my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. May this time of hope fill all of your homes and hearts throughout these blessed seven days that we call Holy.