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Holy Week 2019

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

April 13 - 14  6:30PM Saturday / 8:00 and 10:30 AM Sunday

Holy Week begins with the triumphant entry of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem, amidst the waving of palm branches and the cheers of the crowd. Palms will be blessed and distributed at all Masses. Mass opens with a procession from the outside entrance to the church, weather permitting. Following this triumph is the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord, this year according to St. Luke. The Passion’s seeming paradox of joy and sorrow is not only the story of Messiahship, but is the story of life itself. We reflect this day on the joy which is ours in having so great a Savior, and on the price He paid for our salvation.


April 17  9:00 PM

On Wednesday evening we solemnly begin our celebration of the Sacred Triduum (“Three Days”) with the ancient monastic Office of Tenebrae. The Office of Tenebrae (the name means “darkness” or “shadows”) is a Holy Week devotion which dates back to the 7th century A.D. Tenebrae includes official readings and the successive extinguishing of candles as the service progresses. No service during the entire church year is more biblical. Every word comes from the Scriptures.


 The Sacred Triduum

We now enter the three most solemn and sacred days of our faith life and Church year, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These three days we celebrate the Paschal Mystery—the new Passover.  It is tempting to separate these days, or to attempt to make them historical recreations, but the Church reminds us that these are not distinct and separate events, but rather one continuous event, the Lord’s giving of Himself to and for us, the event of our salvation. Christ’s Paschal Mystery is made present during this celebration.  It is because of the importance of the principal liturgies of these days that nothing else should interfere with them, hence, no confessions, morning Masses, or other Sacramental services.

Holy Thursday

April 18    7:00 PM 

The Holy Thursday Liturgy is an evening celebration. The “Gloria” is sung for the first time since Lent began six weeks ago, and as it is sung the bells are rung as we “glory in the Cross of Christ”. So gathered, the assembly has three stories to hear: The Passover meal, Paul’s account of the Lord’s Supper, and the washing of the feet. After the homily, we follow the “mandatum” (from the Latin word for “command”) and wash the feet of those whom we serve. The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows, marked by a simplicity which reminds us that the principal moment of these three days is yet to come, the Resurrection. Following Communion—properly under both kinds on this night—the remaining Eucharist, enough for the Communion Service on Good Friday, is transferred in procession to the Place of Repose.

(According  to the Directives for Holy Week, this place is NOT to be in the main place of worship, if this is where the Blessed Sacrament is normally reserved.) Following this transfer of the Eucharist, there is a period of adoration until midnight. Meanwhile, at the conclusion of the Liturgy, the ministers return to the sanctuary, where like the Lord the church is stripped, everything portable is removed, leaving the Church starkly bare.

Good Friday

April 19   7:00PM

There is never Mass on Good Friday, but instead a “Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and Holy Communion.” The service itself is a preparation rite of silent prayer, with the clergy prostrated before the bare altar, followed by a Liturgy of the Word: scripture, homily and intercessions. The Passion is read from the Gospel of John.  This is followed by the veneration of the Cross. The rite concludes with the simplest of Communion Services. The Liturgy ends, as it began, in silence.

Holy Saturday

April 20   During the Day 

During the day, we wait.  The following, from an ancient homily delivered on Holy Saturday, gives something of the richness possible:

“Today there is a great silence over the earth, for the king sleeps. The earth has trembled and fallen still, for the Lord sleeps in His fleshy nature; in the nether world He is arousing those who have slept for ages, God is dead in the flesh, and has shaken Sheol to its foundations. He goes to seek our first parents like lost sheep. He wills to visit those who sit in the dark shadows of death and to release Adam and Eve from their grievous capacity The Lord takes Adam’s hand and says to him: “Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten you. I am your God. For your sake I became one of your sons; to you now and to all your posterity I say: Go forth! I bid you: Awake, sleeper! I did not create you to lie bound in hell. Arise from the dead, for I am life to those who have died. Rise up, work of my hands in my likeness, made in my image. Rise, let us go hence.”
        From the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday

The movement today then is toward the Vigil. The fast is encouraged, not the fast of Lent, but that of anticipation. Holy Saturday should not feel like a day off, a cipher between Good Friday and the Vigil. It is most properly a time of prayer, a time of preparation for our celebration of that most glorious moment – the Resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!

       April 20   8:30PM

The VIGIL is called the Mother of all Liturgy, and must start and end after dark. In this most ancient of celebrations in our Christian tradition, there is a full range of symbols: darkness and light, fire and water, blessed oils and bells, bread and wine. There are four parts to this Solemn Vigil:

1. Service of Light
2. Liturgy of the Word
3. Celebration of Sacraments of Initiation
4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

In the Service of Light, the Easter fire is lit and blessed, and the new Easter Candle is then lit from this fire. Both the fire and the Candle are symbols of the risen Christ enlightening the world, steeped in the darkness of sin. The Candle is solemnly carried into the darkened Church, and the people’s candles are lit from it—light slowly spreading through the Church. The beautiful Easter hymn of Salvation, the EXSULTET, is then chanted by the light of these candles.

The Liturgy of the Word is the final instruction to those entering the Church this night. The stories of Creation and the Passover are told, accompanied by the messages of God through the Prophets. Each is followed by its own prayer. Finally, the GLORIA the resounds, again with bells ringing for joy – Easter joy this time! This is followed by the Opening Prayer of the Mass, and then the Epistle, always Romans 6:3-11. The EASTER ALLELUIA follows then the Easter Gospel, this year from St. Luke. The Easter Homily concludes the Liturgy of the Word.

Next we begin Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. First, the entire congregation prays the Litany of the Saints. Then those who have chosen to enter our Faith Community do so, either through Baptism or Profession of Faith. After the baptisms occur, all in the Church renew their baptismal commitments. Then all the newly baptized are confirmed. The newly baptized and newly received are called Neophytes (“new plants”).

The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows. The gifts of bread and wine are brought forward by the new Catholics. At Communion time, they come forth first, with their families, to share for the first time at the Table of the Lord. For many months, they have left the assembly before the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but now they join us at the Table as full members of our Faith Community.  At the end of the Eucharist, all are invited to join the new Catholics in a reception in their honor. The joy of the new members of Christ’s Church is all our joy!

Easter Sunday

April 21   Masses at 8:00 and 10:30

The Holy Water of Baptism is sprinkled on all who renew their baptismal promises during the liturgy today.


Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday

April 13 - 14

6:30PM Saturday
8:00 and 10:30AM Sunday


April 17


Holy Thursday

April 18


Good Friday

April 19

2:30PM Stations of the Cross
7:00PM Veneration of the Cross

Easter Vigil

April 20


Easter Sunday

April 21

8:00 and 10:30AM

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