Oils from the Chrism Mass 2021. Mike Ehrmann photo
Oils from the Chrism Mass 2021. Mike Ehrmann photo

Each year, Catholics from throughout the world are invited to experience the unfolding of the Paschal Mystery of our Lord by participating in the various liturgies that commemorate his Passion, Death and Resurrection during Holy Week.

Here in the Diocese of Trenton, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will commemorate Holy Week, which occurs this year April 10-17, by celebrating Masses and liturgies in parish communities around the Diocese.

April 10 Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

At the start of this Mass, the faithful will receive palm fronds which they will use to participate in the reenactment of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem with a procession. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey to the praise of the townspeople who laid palms or small branches in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.

Bishop O’Connell will celebrate the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Palm Sunday in Nativity Church, Fair Haven. The Mass will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/The-Church-of-the-Nativity-458535774167612

April 11 Mass of Chrism

The Chrism Mass reflects the communion of the priests with their bishop. All of the priests of the Diocese who are gathered publicly renew their commitment to their priestly service. The Mass is also when the Bishop blesses the oils to be used in parishes throughout the coming year – the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens, and he also consecrates the Sacred Chrism, which is used for the Sacraments of Confirmation, Baptism and the ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of churches.

Bishop O’Connell will be principal celebrant of the Mass of Chrism at 7:30 p.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. The Mass will be livestreamed at youtube.com/trentondiocese

April 14 Holy Thursday

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates when Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover. During this Mass, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood and is also when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By washing his disciples’ feet, he set for them and for all of his followers, the example of what it means to “love one another” and to be of service to others.

At the end of the Mass, the Eucharist to be shared on Good Friday is not returned to the tabernacle. Instead, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession by the priest. This action symbolizes Jesus’ walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus agonized over the suffering he was soon to endure.

Bishop O’Connell will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m. in St. David the King Church, Princeton Junction. The Mass will be livestreamed at https://www.stdavidtheking.com/livestream-mass

April 15 Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord

Good Friday, a day of fasting for the Church, commemorates Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death. The celebration of the Lord’s Passion takes place within the context of a Communion service and is held at 3 p.m., which places the prayer close to the traditional hour of Jesus’ Death. The service includes a Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and reception of Holy Communion. The Passion is proclaimed again, but on this day, it is from John’s Gospel account, which is more personal than the other accounts found in Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Bishop O’Connell will commemorate the Lord’s Passion during a noon service in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. The service will be livestreamed at youtube.com/trentondiocese

April 16 Holy Saturday

The Roman Missal explains: “On Saturday, the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night held in anticipation of the Resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of 50 days.”

Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Although celebrated on Holy Saturday evening, the Easter Vigil liturgy marks the beginning of Easter. The Vigil is arranged in four parts: a service of light, which includes the blessing of the fire and lighting of the Paschal Candle; the Liturgy of the Word, during which seven Readings from the Old Testament may be proclaimed that tell the Salvation History of God’s people; the liturgy of Baptism, when new members are welcomed into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Bishop O’Connell will celebrate the Easter Vigil in St. Paul Church, Princeton. The Mass will be livestreamed at https://stpaulsofprinceton.org/mass-streaming

April 17 Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Easter Sunday continues to proclaim the glorious news of the Resurrection. Jesus has been raised from the dead and the power of sin and death has been destroyed forever.