On April 17th-21st, 2019 the XXXVII Home of the Mother Holy Week Encounter took place in Valencia, in the Royal Monastery of the Holy Trinity, whose construction dates back to 1242. In honor of this year being the centennial of Spain’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the theme of the encounter was dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The talks given were aimed at learning more about the history, theology, and spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Being the 37th encounter in Spain, it has also been the largest. There were over 300 participants. Those who attend these encounters knows that, as in any large family, there is always something to do (prepare food, peel potatoes, set the table, serve the food, clean up after eating, clean the bathrooms, etc.). It's called Home of the Mother, not the mother's hotel, and collaborating with household chores is a sign of affection and love towards family members. Dividing into groups not only facilitated carrying out these chores but also getting to know the members of the team better, talking and reflecting on the talks given.
In order to prepare our hearts to live the Easter Triduum with faith and devotion, Fr. Rafael spoke about the cross in the homily on Holy Wednesday and encouraged especially the young people not to trample on it, but to pick it up and embrace it without fear. This homily was essential for many of the participants, as they confessed later on.
The choice of the topic of the Heart of Jesus was not motivated only by the centennial. As they explained in the talks dedicated to the theology and the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus, knowing the Heart of Jesus is knowing the most intimate part of the person of the Lord. Far, therefore, from being a topic impregnated with a sentimentality that is cheesy, insipid (or "soft," in the words of an exponent), the Heart of Jesus evokes all His divinity, because love without measure, given to the extreme, is a characteristic of the strong.acute;n y entrega a Dios. Allí donde está el Sagrado Corazón, el corazón de la Virgen no está lejos.
Additionally, they stressed that the Sacred Heart is not just a comforting symbolism, but a truly human heart, throbbing, alive, that shrinks in pain at the contempt of souls and rejoices with men when they return to the Father. In the Eucharist, this Sacred Heart comes to us as food. Seeing this sign of love, who can doubt God's love? How can we reciprocate?
We can learn from the Virgin Mary, the exemplary model of consecration and surrender to God. Where the Sacred Heart is, the heart of the Virgin Mary is not far away.
The liturgy was another of the strong points of the encounter. The Holy Week services are especially ceremonious and solemn and an extraordinary help to live the Passion devoutly. The Church gives us so much to meditate during the Triduum: prayers, petitions, and readings of incomparable depth and antiquity. One could not help but admire the goodness of God who wanted to be incarnated, suffer and rise hearing the Exsultet and readings that related the History of Salvation.
On Holy Thursday we participated in the Mandatum (and Rite of the Washing of Feet). That night, keeping watch with the Lord, we tried to be more aware of his pain and agony and asking Him to permit us to stay awake with Him. The Good Friday liturgy emphasized this in a more striking way with the Adoration of the Cross. Holy Saturday is always a day that seems suspended in time. We wait and watch with Mary, the hope and relief of the disciples who are sunken in the darkest of nights.
As is tradition, on Saturday evening we virtually met with the other encounters that were taking place in other countries. It was nice to see, despite the physical distance, that we are all the same Home. Later, the moment expected by all Christendom finally arrived: the Easter Vigil. The darkness was suddenly lit with the Easter fire and we, with our fragile candles, were to be the bearers of that light for the world. We were flooded with an immense joy as we gradually lit the lights in the Church. As we sang the Glory once again, many of us could not help but be moved, upon the truth proclaimed: Christ is alive! He has truly risen!
Since the Vigil is just the start, it was followed by the world-famous Festival of the Home of the Mother. It is an event whose purpose is not the search for new talents (although we have never been disappointed in this aspect), but the joint celebration of the cause of our joy as Christians. To do so, the groups that had been formed for the other activities had to present a small act (musical, skit or otherwise) on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
After a somewhat short night, the next day everyone had to return home. In the homily on Sunday, Fr. Felix insisted on the joy that comes with the Resurrection. It is a joy that is a distinctive feature of Christians that radiates outwards due to its superabundance. Encouraged by these words, and after cleaning up the convent, we said goodbye, sad that the encounter had reached its end, but joyful because Easter had begun and now we await the next encounter of the Home of the Mother.