This week is the holiest week of the Church year. Today, Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. This day recalls the scene in Jerusalem when our Lord entered the city riding on a donkey, and the people spread their garments and palm branches before him so that even the hoofs of the donkey didn’t touch the ground. However the exultant crowd becomes, the crowd that will curse him a few days later calling for His crucifixion. As the mood of the liturgy changes, we are challenged to ask ourselves, “What do I expect of Jesus?
This year the Chrism Mass will be on Holy Tuesday here at St. Agnes. Remember that it is at this liturgy when the oils which are used in the different sacraments are blessed by the Bishop. It is also at this liturgy in which the priests renew their commitment to serve another year as your pastors and associate pastors. Come and celebrate with all the area priests.
The Triduum begins with the evening Liturgy on Holy Thursday with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The first reading gives the background for the Passover Meal. The second reading contains some of the earliest written accounts of the Lord’s Supper. The Gospel presents Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. As our bishop did last year, I will take water and towels and wash the feet of twelve of our young people. The washing of the feet of the disciples by Christ, is an example of the humbleness each Christian should possess. The service ends with the Blessed Sacrament being removed from the Church to a prepared place and the altar is stripped. All are invited to spend some time in prayer this night (8:30-12:00) before the Lord in our day chapel.
Good Friday is the most sober day of the entire Church year. There are no decorations and no Mass this day. It is a day of fasting. We simply prostrate in humble submission before the Word and the glorious cross of Christ. The first reading tells of the glory of the cross, the second reading speaks of the great high priest who has passed through the heavens; the Christian mystery. The climax of the readings is the proclamation of the Passion of Christ according to John’s Gospel. John’s Gospel allows the majesty of Jesus to shine forth as He carries his cross alone. He is victorious on the cross; Jesus reigns from the tree. Following the Passion we pray the solemn form of the General Intercessions. The second part of the Good Friday liturgy is unique to this day.
A large wooden cross is brought into the sanctuary for us to reverence with a touch or a kiss. This is a remembrance of the days when the early Christians reverenced a replica of the true cross. We reverence a reminder of that instrument of torture, cruelty and death; because through it Christ has given us our Salvation. The Good Friday services conclude with a simple Communion Service with the Eucharist from Holy Thursday’s Liturgy. We have one service at 12:00 p.m. and a second service in the evening at 7 p.m.
Holy Saturday with all of its readings, candles, profession of faith and blessings, is the vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection. And will begin at 8 p.m. It is arranged in four parts: the service of light, the liturgy of the word, when the Church meditates on all the wonderful things God has done for his people from the beginning. The third part is the liturgy of baptism, when new members of the Church are reborn in the waters of baptism, and the fourth part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, when the Church is called to the table which the Lord has prepared for His people through His death and resurrection.
I invite and urge everyone to come and be a part of the celebrations of the Triduum. The liturgies of the Triduum are the story of our redemption. This year walk in the footsteps of Christ from the Last Supper, to Calvary, to the Resurrection.