Holy Week Notes

Holy Week Notes

The Holy Week starts with the re-enactment of the messianic entrance of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, coming to complete his paschal mystery. In our liturgical celebration, this remembrance is done with the blessing of the palms and the procession at the beginning of Masses on Palm Sunday. This Sunday is also designated as Passion Sunday when we read the long narrative on the passion and death of the Lord Jesus. As Christians, we must remember: “Christ, out of infinite love, freely underwent suffering and death because of the sins of all people, so that all might attain salvation. It is the duty of the Church, therefore, in its preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s universal love and the source of all grace.” (Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions)

Holy Wednesday is also referred to as Spy Wednesday. We recall how Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated on Holy Thursday. At this Mass, the Sacred Chrism and other holy oils are blessed by the bishop, together with the representatives of the priests and the faithful from all parts of the diocese. The celebration is a sign of unity and communion of the priests and the faithful with their bishop. Representations from the parishes take an active part in the celebration as readers, gift bearers or servers. The celebration should foster the relationship of the bishop with the liturgical life of the parish.

The Easter Triduum starts with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and culminates with the Easter Vigil. “Through His paschal mystery, the Lord Jesus redeemed the human race and gave perfect glory to the Father. By dying, Christ destroyed our death; by rising, He restored our life.” For this reason, the Easter Triduum, when we celebrate the Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection, is the high point of the liturgical year.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper features the Washing of the Feet which symbolizes Christ’s service and charity. It is for this reason that the procession of the gifts should include gift for the poor. This is the last celebration of the Eucharist before Easter Vigil. The Blessed Sacrament is reposed, and people are encouraged to do adoration until midnight. A single genuflection is always made before the Blessed Sacrament. The double genuflection is no longer made. If possible, crosses are removed from the church; if left, they are veiled. Holy Water is removed from the Baptismal Font and the fonts at the church doors and are refilled only after the Easter Mass with its renewal of baptismal promises.

We fast on Good Friday and Holy Saturday to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and to prepare more deeply in the joy of the resurrection. Good Friday is a universal day of fasting and abstinence from meat.

The Veneration of the Cross is done during the Good Friday Service, together with Holy Communion. After the service, the Blessed Sacrament is reposed. The altar is stripped of its cloth without ceremony.

On Holy Saturday, we remain in recollection at the tomb of the Lord, meditating on His sufferings and death, refraining from celebrating the Eucharist until the night. Throughout this day, the faithful are invited to continue the solemn paschal fast which they began on Good Friday. During the solemn vigil service, a night of prayer which looks forward to the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection, mourning gives way to Easter joys, which is celebrated for the next fifty days.

St. Augustine said that the Easter vigil, the night when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, is to be considered the mother of all vigils. During this night, the people of God keep watch as they await the Christ’s Resurrection.

The Ceremony of the Light and the Easter Proclamation are celebrated at the start of the service, followed by the readings which recall the history of our salvation that climaxes at Christ’s resurrection. The readings outline the whole process of our salvation from sin and death. At the Easter Vigil, catechumens (if any) are baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist. Candidates for full communion (if any) are also received by professing their faith, getting confirmed and partaking in the Eucharist.