Dear Parishioners: Today is Palm Sunday and it is the beginning of the Great Week of the Church, Holy Week: the week in which we remember and witness to and relive in our own lives the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Every other dimension of the Christian life finds its roots and inspiration in this Paschal Mystery. Holy Week is a time the Church sets aside each year so that we can experience in the liturgy the events of our salvation, renew our faith, strengthen our spiritual life and give strength to that vision of life that only our Catholic faith can provide us. And, as we make our faith journey we recognize that it is through the eyes of faith that we see so much more of what God intends for us. Palm Sunday calls us to begin this spiritual journey. It helps us approach the mysteries of salvation with lively faith and grow that much closer to Christ.
On Holy Thursday at 7:00PM, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper that commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. It is the only Mass allowed on this day. Also just as Christ did for his 12 Apostles at the Last Supper and as he commanded them to do likewise, during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the priests who represent Christ ceremoniously wash the feet of 12 parishioners. After the Last Supper and before he was arrested and condemned to death, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, accompanied by two of the disciples.
So after the Holy Thursday Mass, the remaining sacred hosts are carried to an “Altar of Repose,” and the people go with the Eucharistic Christ in a procession to the altar of repose. People stay for a time, adoring the wondrous sacrament that Jesus instituted that day 2,000 years ago. Our Church is to remain open on Holy Thursday until Midnight for prayer and adoration at the Altar of Repose. The Mass of the Lord's Supper finished, the Church now without the Eucharist is truly empty. So the tabernacle light is extinguished and the tabernacle door is left open, exposing the vacant space inside. In silence the altar is stripped bare of its linens and candles, Holy Water is removed from the Church's fonts and the sacraments are not celebrated until the Easter Vigil.
Like the first Christians bereft of Jesus and mourning the two days after the crucifixion, the Church stands unadorned until the Easter Vigil Mass. Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. Those over 14 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. We refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Good Friday.
The Stations of the Cross devotion is focused on the Passion of Christ. While many pray the meditative prayer on their own throughout the year, it can be an especially poignant experience during Holy Week, when the entire Church recalls the way of Jesus' suffering and death. The Stations are to be celebrated on Friday at 3:00PM. On Good Friday, the Church gathers for the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion, which includes a reading of a Gospel account of the Passion, Holy Communion (consecrated at Mass on Holy Thursday) and veneration of the Cross. The faithful process to the cross at the foot of the sanctuary, as if to receive communion. There each person reverences the crucifix with a kiss or a solemn bow. Join us on Good Friday at 7:00PM for this solemn liturgy.
On Holy Saturday, the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, and meditates on His Passion and Death and His descent into Hell. With prayer and fasting we await His glorious Easter resurrection. We celebrate the great Vigil of Easter at 8:00PM on Saturday. At the Vigil we baptize adults and receive into the Church those baptized in other faiths becoming Catholic. Also First Communion and Confirmation are celebrated. On Easter Sunday morning we celebrate the glory of the Resurrection with Masses at 7:30AM, 9:00AM and 10:30. Holy Week is here! Please join us as we celebrate our Catholic Faith with devotion and solemnity. God Bless.