Holy Week, the most profound and sacred season of the Christian year, begins this Sunday with the Liturgy of the Palms and the first Eucharist of the Passion, by the changing of vestments from white to red. The week unfolds with daily Eucharist and on Maundy Thursday, Eucharist and Footwashing, commemorating the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing of the disciples feet.
On Good Friday people will have three opportunities for worship, morning, noon and evening, as described in the schedule for Holy Week. In addition to the Stations of the Cross at noon, the church will be open for the traditional Three Hours, from noon to 3 :00, during which the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available in the Chapel of the Resurrection and other stations so designated. Traditional prayers will be read on the hour, but most of the time will be offered for silent meditation and the veneration of the Cross. The Three Hours culminate in the tolling of the bell 33 times, commemorating Christ’s giving up his spirit on the cross.
Both the early morning and evening services are “masses of the pre-sanctified.” Eucharist is not celebrated on GoodFriday, but communion is distributed from the reserve sacrament consecrated at the Maundy Thursday service.
Christ’s passion according to St. Luke will be read on Palm Sunday. The Passion according to St. John is always sung or said as part of the Good Friday Liturgy. It will be said at the morning service and chanted by the choir during the evening service.
The solemnities of Holy Week culminate Saturday evening with the Great Vigil of Easter, including the once-a-year chanting of the Exsultet, and first mass of Easter, when all bells break loose with the joyful news of Christ’s Resurrection! Bring your bells and don’t be shy about ringing them during the Gloria!
The Vigil begins with the lighting of the new fire, which will take place in the narthex (the space just inside the front doors). The fire will be clearly visible to all from the pews. We are blessed to have baptisms and confirmations at this service, which is one of the four great baptismal days of the year.
More about our three Easter services at 8:00, 10:30 and 12: 15, in next week’s Update. In the meantime, we invite you to take this sacred Holy Week journey with us, as we participate in God’s work of reconciliation through the Paschal mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.