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The Amazing Events of Holy Week

It begins…the most solemn and sacred time of the entire year: Holy Week.

These seven days cover the most significant period of time in all of human history: the God who became man not only offered Himself to take away the sins of the world and rose to new life three days later, but by His death and resurrection He has conquered forever the power of Sin and Death.  The events of this week celebrate these sacred mysteries and help our hearts enter into them.

Today, Palm Sunday, the Lord makes His triumphal entrance, His final entrance, into the capital city of Jerusalem.  The crowds greeted Him with palm and olive branches, even crying out Hosannah, an exclamation of praise and joy…they sensed in some way that Jesus was the King…but, as we read the Passion, how quickly we see them turn on Him and abandon Him.

Wednesday of Holy Week is called “Spy Wednesday,” the day Judas comes up with the plan to betray Jesus.  On that evening we will have a service called Tenebrae, from the Latin for shadow, darkness.  It’s a powerful and dramatic evening of prayer, where, as prayers, readings, and psalms all covering the Passion are read, the only lights in the church–candles on the altar–are extinguished one by one, until we are left in the darkness of Judas’ betrayal.

Holy Thursday has us at the Last Supper with the Lord and His 12 Apostles.  He instituted the Sacred Priesthood that night as He commissioned them to do as He had done, becoming the servant of all and washing their feet.  He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist that evening, fulfilling the practice of the Passover, Himself becoming the Bread that comes down from heaven, as well as the Sacrificed Lamb.  After Mass, we will go in procession into the Garden with Jesus, a beautifully decorated Social Hall to spend time with Him in His agony.  At midnight, I will go and “snatch” Jesus, just as He was arrested that first Holy Thursday, and hide His Eucharistic Presence until Communion the next day.

Good Friday brings us to Calvary.  We fast and abstain.  We join Our Lord as He is nailed to the Cross, reflecting on His seven last words.  There will be short homilies and interludes of sacred music to help us enter in.  We solemnly read the Passion according to St. John.  We bring all the intentions of the world to the foot of the Cross with the solemn intercessions.  We get the opportunity to venerate the Cross ourselves, thanking the Lord for His sacrifice and mercy.  We mourn in silence at the death of the Son of God.

Nothing happens during the day on Holy Saturday.  Jesus is dead, the Church mournes.  The only exceptions will be the offering of the Divine Mercy Novena and the preparation of the RCIA candidates and catechumens.  

Then, out of the silence the light of the resurrection begins to dawn as a new fire is blessed, a sacred Pillar of Fire is lit, as the Easter Vigil begins.  In the light of that solitary candle, we hear the principal events of salvation history proclaimed, Creation, the Flight from Egypt, and more.  Then the explosion of light and joy as the Epistle is read wherein St. Paul bellows through the millennia that CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. Death is Sin are bound captive, and our souls, through reception and faith, are set free.  Our catechumen will renounce the evil one and profess his faith in Jesus Christ.  He will be Baptized and Confirmed.  Three others who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church will be received and Confirmed.  We will all renew our own baptismal promises.  We will celebrate our first Easter Eucharist, the four new Catholics receiving their First Holy Communion.

Easter Sunday will be a full day of Masses celebrating the resurrection with joy and gladness.  

These days are our most sacred, and I invite you to journey with Our Lord through them intentionally.  Cancel other events.  Come and experience Holy Week.  These events are the Good News, the Great News, the Tremendous News that we long for.  

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
All you Holy Saints of God, pray for us!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Michael