Sunday, 13 April 2014

Holy Week

This week, the Catholic Church celebrates the most important week of its liturgical year - Holy Week. Holy Week consists of Palm Sunday which opens the solemn week and it is a build up towards the Easter Triduum which 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). The season of Lent officially comes to a close on Holy Thursday. Let us now look closely to the significance of each day.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we acknowledge 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 twelve apostles around table. It was at this time that Jesus washed the feet of his apostles and was aware that one of the twelve 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 during the Good Friday service.

On Good Friday, outside the gates of Jerusalem, Jesus was ordered to be crucified. During that time, it was the cruelest way for any human to die. After being crowned with thorns, spat upon, insulted, beaten with whips, humiliated, stripped of his own garments, nailed to a cross, drunk gall and vinegar, and pierced 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 known as The Passion and Veneration of the Cross, is conducted at 3PM to commemorate the hour Christ died. During this liturgy, general intercessions are offered up and the faithful venerate the Holy Cross.

On 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 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 season and it 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 as the Light of the World. The candle is then processed through the church, which the Deacon lifts at three different times, singing: Christ our light (Lumen Christi) and the congregation replies: Thanks be to God (Deo gratias). Everyone lights their candle from the Easter candle and continue in procession and the Deacon then chants the Exsultet (The Easter Proclamation).

The Liturgy of the Word; while the Church remains in complete darkness, the second part of the Celebration begins, the Liturgy of the Word. At this point, the faithful listen to God's word and meditate on the wonderful works which he has done for his people since the beginning of time. Nine (9) readings are done; seven (7) from the Old Testament, One from the New Testament which is called the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gloria is sung before the reading of the Epistle, 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 at this point and the whole church is now called to join in the sacrificial table that Christ prepared for us through his death and resurrection. The rest of the Liturgy continues as normal. 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 (please walk with your candles)
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.

Here are some images of last year's Easter Triduum Celebrations:

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