Monday, 25 March 2013

Holy Week!

Welcome to the Biggest and Most Celebrated Week in the Liturgical Calendar. Palm Sunday opens this solemn week and it is a build up to the Easter Triduum which is what the Catholic faith is centered around. Holy Week consists of Holy Thursday (The Last Supper), Good Friday (The Crucifixion & Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord) and Gloria Saturday (The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord). Lent officially ends on Holy Thursday!

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Last Supper in which Christ broke bread with his 12 apostles around table.It was at this occassion that Jesus washed the feet of his apostles and knowing that one of the 12 were to betray him. Following the sacred supper, Christ spent the entire night in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane which was immediately followed by his arrest and taken before the chief priests and scribes. As a Church, we are encouraged to 'eat' with Christ. The Priest consecrates enough Eucharist at this mass since no consecration is allowed on the Good Friday service.

On Good Friday, outside the gates of Jerusalem, Jesus was ordered to be crucified. At that time, it was the most cruel way for any human to die. After being crowned with thorns, spat upon, insulted, beaten with whips, humiliated, stripped of his graments, nailed to a wooden cross, made to drink gall and vinegar, and wounded by a lance, Jesus finally breathed his last after three hours of agony on the cross. As a Church we are encouraged to 'die' with Christ. A Eucharistic Service, not a Mass, formally called the Passion and Veneration of the Cross, is carried out in the afternoon session to commemorate the hour Christ died. The faithful are encouraged to prayer for the Chruch, The Holy Father, Ourselves and other members of the Clergy, and those in secular authority during the General Intercessions and they all venerate the Holy Cross on which has hung the Saviour of the World.

Holy Saturday, aka Gloria Saturday, the church remains closed since no Masses are allowed to take place before the Vigil Hour (usually 6pm and beyond). As a Church we are to remain 'low' with Christ. However, when the Easter Vigil officially begins, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, coming out of the tomb. The Easter Vigil liturgy is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. It marks the beginning of Easter. This celebration is divided into four (4) parts: The Service of Light, the Liturgy of the Word, The Liturgy of Baptism and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Service of Light; The service begins outside the church. A new fire is lit and blessed. The Priest lights a special candle called 'The Paschal Candle' which symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World. The candle is then processed through the church, with the deacon lifting the candle at three different times, singing: Christ our light (Lumen Christi) and the congregation sings in reply: Thanks be to God (Deo gratias). Everyone lights their candle from the Easter candle and continue in procession until the whole church is alight. The Deacon then chants the Exsultet (The Easter Proclamation).

The Liturgy of the Word; While the Church remains in darkenss, the second part of the Celebration begins, the Liturgy of the Word, where the faithful listen to God's word and meditate on the wonderful works of God for his people since the beginning of time. Nine (9) readings are done; seven (7) from the Old Testament, One from the New Tastament which is called the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gloria is sung before the reading of the Epistle of the Romans, and the Alleluia is sung before the Gospel.

The Liturgy of Baptism; During this time the Easter water is blessed, new members are brought into the Church through baptism, and the faithful are blessed with water and renew their baptismal promises.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist; The Mass resumes with the special prayers inserted during the Eucharist Prayer. The whole church is then called to join at the sacrificial table that Christ prepared for us through his death and resurrection. The rest of the Liturgy continues as normal, bearing in mind the New Life that has been granted.

As a Church we are to 'rise' with Christ.

Easter Sunday, Holy Mass is celebrated only in a condensed fashion.

At St. Joseph/ Mt. D'or our Easter Triduum goes as follows:
Holy Thursday: 6.30PM at St. Joseph R.C. Church (please walk with a loaf of bread)
Good Friday: Stations of the Cross beginning at the Church at 6AM and Passion and Veneration of the Cross at 3PM at St. Joseph R.C. Church
Gloria Saturday: Easter Vigil at 9PM at St. Joseph R.C. Church
Easter Sunday: 7AM at St. Jude's Chapel and 8:30AM at St. Joseph R.C. Church
Easter Monday: 7AM at St. Joseph R.C. Church.

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