This year Holy Week begins on April 5. We begin as always with Palm Sunday and we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The palms remind us of the palms the people laid on the ground to smooth out the road and those that they waved as they sang “Hosanna.”
On Tuesday of Holy Week, our diocese celebrates the Chrism Mass, so named because this is where Bishop Barbarito, at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, blesses all the oils that are used for baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick. At this Mass, all the priests of the diocese take part and those who are celebrating special anniversaries are recognized.
We then move to Holy Thursday, the day we remember as when Jesus institutes the Eucharist, washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, is betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas and eventually sentenced to death. It is also an opportunity to sit with Jesus in prayer and adoration while he is present at the Altar of Repose until we meet him once again at the Easter Vigil.
Good Friday is spent in prayer and quiet as we remember the day Jesus died for us. It is a day of fasting and abstinence; a good day to pray the Stations of the Cross. This is the only day of the year when no hosts are consecrated and Jesus is not present in the tabernacle.
Holy Saturday is spent in watchful anticipation of the Resurrection. How different our day must be compared to that of the apostles. We know He will rise on Easter, while they were unsure and fearful.
As darkness descends, a new fire is lit outside of our church and the Easter Vigil begins. We light the Pascal Candle and bless the water in our Baptismal font that will be used to baptize those coming into the Catholic Church. The Easter Vigil is the culmination of months and study and prayer for those be received into the Church. It is the beginning of each person’s new life in Christ as members of our Church. The Vigil also reminds all of us that we are called from darkness into light and are renewed by the waters of baptism.
On Easter morning we rejoice as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death. At Mass that day we renew our Baptismal promises, and are sprinkled with holy water to remind us that we belong to Christ and have salvation through his death and resurrection. The Easter season ends on Pentecost, May 31.
Each of these liturgies brings the last days of Jesus’ life here on earth as man like us sharply into focus. I spend as much time as possible entering this time of Passion, Death and Resurrection. I pray you are able to as well.