MANHATTAN, NY — University of Mary President Msgr. James Shea has accepted the invitation of His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, to preach the Tre Ore service on Good Friday from noon until 3 p.m., April 18 from America’s most iconic Church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York.
The service takes its name from the Italian words “tre ore,” meaning “three hours,” in reference to the three hours that Christ hung upon the cross on Good Friday. The Tre Ore service is comprised of a number of reflections on Christ’s passion and death, particularly the seven last “words” uttered by Jesus on the cross, in addition to meditative prayer, music, and silent meditation. The final phrases of Jesus’ earthly life are the subject of great study and reverence in Christianity, and the preacher’s task is to lead the faithful into a deeper understanding of the mysteries of suffering and hope, a task entrusted to Shea this year.
“The final hours of Christ on the cross, especially the seven last words, are among the most intimate moments in which we encounter Christ’s love,” commented Msgr. Shea. “It’s an incredible honor to preach and share in the Lord’s Passion with so many, especially at the heart of the American church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”
Shea carries on this celebrated Catholic tradition that began in Italy, but made famous in America by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen back in the 1950’s. The last preacher of the Tre Ore was Fr. Robert Barron, a popular Catholic writer and media personality from Chicago. Another past Tre Ore preacher, Fr. Romanus Cessario, who has authored books to include, The Seven Last Words of Jesus, vividly recalls some of Sheen’s historic Seven Last Words homilies and their impact on the people.
Cessario says Sheen mesmerized not only the 3,000 people inside the cathedral, but the same number of people outside the cathedral on the police-blocked streets of Manhattan where they were listening on loud speakers. “People went to church, stores in New York closed down between noon and 3 p.m., because the Tre Ore, the ‘three hours,’ were a sacred time that recalls Christ hanging on the cross.”
The New York Times reported much the same. “The heart of Manhattan’s most congested midtown area became a miniature St. Peter’s Square.”
“Msgr. Shea, himself a devoted and zealous priest and a deeply spiritual man, will, I am confident, inspire all who hear him preach during this most holy time on Good Friday,” remarked Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan, “He’s an excellent preacher of the word of God and will impress upon all the depth of the love and mercy of God in offering His only begotten Son for the sins of the world.”
In the past EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) has rebroadcast nationally the Tre Ore event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Check the EWTN broadcast schedule for up to date announcements regarding this event. Or check the current schedule for live feeds of Triduum services from Rome and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.