I find Holy Week difficult; there's no point hiding it. I had a thing when I was a kid, and I was a church going kid; it was that near to Christmas Day some time I would be in church and I would say to myself 'I MUST think about Jesus on Christmas Day; I must think about Jesus on Christmas Day,' like a mantra. Christmas Day would come and I invariably forgot to think about Jesus, caught up in present opening, food and TV.
It's a bit different with Holy Week, being a priest and all. You can't really escape it. And at the beginning of 'Holy Week' I feel a bit like 'here we go...'
It's just such an intense, cannot-ignore-it, pulls-you-in-and-gets-right-under-your-skin story, right up to Easter morning. For some reason I find it much easier to think about the Passion and death of Christ, than his resurrection. So I'm more stuck on the gore than the joy. Which bothers me. Maybe that's because crucifixion was a well documented form of torture and death in the Roman world, and many others had suffered it before Jesus. It was everyday. Whereas the resurrection of a human body from the dead is absolutely outside all imagination. However you try to picture it, it is extremely difficult to imagine the actual moment. Maybe we shouldn't try.
But before resurrection, there's absolutely no escaping the Gethsemane and Calvary agony. Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. He is not a helpless, confused victim. And he did say 'no servant is above his master. If the world hated me, it will hate you too'. Which I also find very disturbing.
And then there's the challenge of being increasingly aware of things liturgical. I wasn't always this way inclined and I'm sure it brings with it more of a 'living the story' approach to Holy Week, so that although you know that the death and resurrection of Jesus has already happened, yet you find yourself inhabiting it day by day, and you can't help it, because that is what the church is doing too: 'Holy Week'; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Holy Saturday; Easter Day...' No doubt there's even a liturgical term for this coming Wednesday...if that's the case it has so far passed me by (can I suggest 'Woeful Wednesday'?)
You cannot help your mood becoming more sombre. And, as I have learnt from taking funerals and presiding at the Eucharist, at the juncture of a paradox, where two things of vast spiritual significance are swirling around each other like a cold front and a warm front - usually death and resurrection - there is plenty of spiritual turbulence for you pick up, like constant background static. That can be a strange and wearing experience. And normally I need a bit of a sit down afterwards.
So, like I said; here we go...