Anticipating our Holy Week Journey
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 which this year will be held April 2-9
April 2 • Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
At the start of this Mass, 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.
April 3 • 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. The Bishop also consecrates the Sacred Chrism, which is used for the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of churches.
April 6 • 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 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 administered on Good Friday is not returned to the tabernacle. Instead, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession by the priest. The action symbolizes Jesus’ walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus agonized over the suffering he was soon to endure.
April 7 • 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.
April 8 • 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.”
The 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.