Uruguay - Something from Paysandú!

I should like to share with you what I have experienced during the four months I have been in my new community here. I experience it as another ’present’ from God, one that I have truly appreciated! I arrived just before the final vows of a young religious of the ’Incarnate Word’: the celebration was joyful, with lots of participation, and the presence of her family, of a large number of religious of her Congregation and of the diocese. There are numerous occasions for festive celebrations. Among them one was less festive in that it involved saying good-bye to Liliana Salas, a Little Sister who was much loved here in Paysandú. It is a real privilege to belong to a parish like that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

HOLY WEEK 2014
 
Monday 
With members of the various parishes and com-munities of the diocese of Salto, which comprises the departments of the north coast of Uruguay (Artigos, Salto, Paysandú and Rio Negro), we accompanied our parish priests to be with Mgr Pablo Galimberti, our bishop, for the celebration of the Chrism Mass in Salto. It was very beautiful to see the arrival of persons from different regions of the diocese. A meal had been prepared which could all share together, priests, religious and laypeople, in the Cathedral gardens. 
Tuesday and Wednesday 
Before the Mass there was a time of reflection on some verses from the Letter to the Corinthians; this was guided by our parish priest, Father Jesús Weisensee
 
Holy Thursday
Something very new for me and which had very deep meaning as we celebrated the ’Paschal Supper of Jesus’.
 
The Jews ate the paschal meal in commemoration of the ’passing of Yahweh’ among his people to free them from slavery in Egypt. This feast was celebrated at the first full moon of the month of Nissan, which corresponds to the period between the 15th of March and the 20th of April in our calendar. The date of Holy Week is variable because it corresponds to a lunar calendar. 
In the book of Exodus (12:1-14), the Lord God indicated to Moses how the Meal should be celebrated: ’… ’you will eat a roasted lamb, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread and bitter herbs; you will eat it hastily: it is a Passover in honour of the Lord…’ Jesus Christ wished to celebrate the Paschal Meal with his disciples before his death, and he celebrated it in the manner of the pious Jews of his time. (cf. Lk 22:1-20) 
 
We truly celebrated ’the paschal meal’: each step had been very well explained. Before entering the dining room we washed one another’s hands. This year it was the Little Sisters who were asked to explain that gesture. 
 
Standing we ate the roast lamb, the unleavened bread provided by the Jewish community, the lettuce and the wine or water.
All of this was done in a very recollected manner. 
 
After this quick meal, we had a short procession around the parish territory, singing psalms and hymns. 
 
On Holy Thursday, in the Liturgy celebrated at the church in the evening, Father Jesús suggested to the couples who were willing to do so, to perform the action of washing one another’s feet. We though that nobody would dare to do so but, gradually, thirteen couples came forward.
Friday and Saturday, the traditional celebrations took place. 
 
On Sunday, the Mass in the evening ended with the ’renewal of the marriage promises’, a simple ceremony that has been held for the past five years. It was also very beautiful to see couples who have been married for different lengths of time (1 to 60 years) renewing the promises they had made in the past. 
I cannot end this account without emphasising the life of this parish community of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paysandú. 
 
The laity are very well prepared to take on the various activities and liturgical services, responding to the needs of the different chapels and even of the parish church in the absence of the parish priest: ministers of the Word, of the Eucharist, in the church and in people’s homes. 
This indicates that we have a parish priest who is very valuable, able to train others, very close to people, one who values the laity and is able to delegate responsibilities.
 
’There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. 
The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given by the same Spirit and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit.’ 1 Co 12:4-8 
Ma. Estela 
Community of Paysandú - Uruguay
27/10/2014
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