Holy Week is the most important week in our year of praise and prayer. It is a rich time in our life of prayer.
Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday): The Masses this weekend begin with a joyful blessing of the palms and with the procession in memory of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Then the mood becomes somber: we listen to the story of our Lord’s suffering and death, as told by Luke. The red vestments today remind us of the blood shed for us by Jesus, the great martyr and witness to God’s truth.
During the year, we keep our palms in a place of honor, with a crucifix or holy picture; we may keep a palm in each room at home.
Holy Thursday: The three days from Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday evening are called the Easter Triduum, and are the year’s most solemn days.
* Evening Mass of the Lord’s supper: St. John’s Gospel speaks to us about the commandment of love, which Jesus wants us to live by our actions. He showed his love by washing the Apostles’ feet; the priest wash the feet of some parishioners as a sign of love and service for God’s people in this community. Jesus invites us to eat and drink, that we may recall his love for us and have a share in his eternal life.
The procession with the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass is followed by a time of adoration and personal prayer until ten o’clock. 10:00 p.m.. concludes this period of adoration in our parish.
Good Friday: This is a worldwide day of fast and abstinence from meat.
* Celebration of the Lord’s passion: We recall the time of Jesus’ death on the cross and we listen to God’s holy Word, including the solemn reading of the passion narrative according to St. John. Then we offer a special prayer of the faithful in its ancient format. After the cross is carried solemnly into the church, we venerate this cross in faith and love and then we receive communion.
Holy Saturday: This is a day of voluntary fast; we may wish to continue Friday’s fast in memory of Jesus as his body lay in the tomb. Holy Saturday is a day of prayer and reflection, not a day for shopping and fun.
* Easter vigil: Our celebration begins after dark in order to let the light of Christ shine forth with splendor, and to show that this is the greatest night of the year, the Church’s most solemn celebration.
—Light service: Within the darkened church, we bless the new fire and light the Easter candle. The priest carries the light of Christ through the community, and all light their candles from it. Then the Easter song of praise is sung.
—Word service: We listen to bible readings, and hear again the proclamation that Jesus has been raised in glory from the grave. We rejoice, and sing Alleluia! (This is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord!”)
—Baptism service: The water is blessed, and the catechumens proclaim their faith and are baptized. All members of the community renew their baptismal promises. The candidates are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, and they are confirmed.
—Eucharist: This celebration is the first Mass of Easter. Those who became Catholics this night make their first communion.
Easter Sunday: We continue to celebrate the rising of Jesus, and our share in his life: This is the day the Lord has made, and we rejoice! After the homily in the Masses, we all renew our baptismal promises.