Wednesday of Holy Week Reflection

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Today’s reflection was written by Brother Johan Vanhove, C.F.X., of the Xaverian community in Bruges, Belgium.

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.

[Isaiah 50:4]

“A church with the poor and for the poor.” Those words express one of the very first thoughts of Pope Francis. His mission is clear and is immediately manifested in several symbolic gestures.

We Xaverians are participating in this mission knowing “… that God desires to manifest care and compassionate love.” We are working in education and formation, we are opening centers for street children, we are going to the poorest of countries, we are participating in the sufferings of our neighbors and of people everywhere. All this Xaverian multicultural inclusivity witnesses our service to the love of God.

During this Holy Week, we especially try to be in solidarity with the suffering of humanity and to take up our own “cross.” Our cross is part of life. And we trust Jesus Christ to help bear the burden of our cross; that is why in some abbeys the veneration of the Cross is done each week on Friday.

We integrate sufferings and we try to give them their proper “place.” And it is often in ordinary and unspectacular situations. Pope Francis approaches a lame man and the lame man smiles. His words are “rousing” words, as Isaiah says: “The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

As multicultural Xaverians, we are privileged to know the many translations of “Holy Week.” In French it is “La Semaine Sainte,” emphasizing, as in English, the holiness of the salvation of humanity by Jesus Christ and our dedication to Him. In Dutch we say “De Goede Week,” which is translated literally as, “The Good Week.” The words evoke the mercy of God and our “insatiable” zeal for souls. In German it is “Die Stille Woche”: “The Silent Week.” This brings our thoughts to Mary, living with her sister Martha, whose example emphasizes our long meditative silences and our communal nature—“a band of brothers.”

Drawing our attention this Week to holiness, goodness, and silence is a way to live our culturally inclusive mission. Those three words are small aspects of a worldwide vision, following Theodore Ryken, who chose the other Francis—Saint Francis Xavier—as the patron of our congregation.


Recommended Exercise

Choose one of the following:
• What about the Xaverian Way challenges you the most?
• Is the exercise of listening a “cross” for you? If yes, take it up. If no, continue improving that skill.
• Do one thing that is selfless and do it as unspectacularly as possible.



God of Light and of Life, you have given us The Way by sending Creation your only Son. May we who follow His passion and death experience His resurrection and allow it to gift us with the energy, compassion, and wisdom to follow Jesus Christ’s Mission. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.


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One Comment

  1. John Hamilton says:


    What a wonderfully evocative reflection on the insights into the Mystery of Holy Week that come through in the unique perspective of each culture’s linguistic attempt to name these days. Your intimation that we come to know more of the Mystery by attuning to each other’s unique awareness of it is a great reminder of our need for each other and the richness in our differences.

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