The most important week of our Church year – Holy Week. We celebrate, we remember, we believe in what God had done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the week that solidifies our being saved from sin and our being gifted with eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16
We must believe. We must trust in the goodness and the unconditional love of God. Our weakness and our sinfulness are forgiven. We are gifted with eternal life! Today, on Palm Sunday we hear once again the Passion of Jesus Christ with all of its drama, accusations, pain and death on the Cross. And following the three days – the Triduum – we will rejoice once again in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God with infinite wisdom proves to the world that his love is stronger than any sin, stronger than evil, stronger than death. We, who believe in Jesus Christ, know of his power over sin and death. He has conquered both in one incredible act of love that gifts all those who believe with life eternal. Set aside time this week to enter into the experience with Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem, knowing full well what is in store for him. Be with your faith community and all Christians the world over to celebrate an incredible liturgy that begins on Holy Thursday.
Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper - At sundown on Holy Thursday Lent officially ends and the liturgical season call “The Triduum” begins. It is the shortest of all liturgical seasons – only three days. At the celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Oils, blessed by Bishop Kettler at the Chrism Mass one week prior, will be presented during the procession. This celebration of the Eucharist includes the mandatum – the washing of feet – “You must do as I have done” (omitted due to COVID). This Mass is also a commemoration of the priesthood - a great time to thank our priests for their chosen vocation. This Mass ends in silence as the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Tabernacle and taken to the Altar of Repose. It will return for Good Friday.
Good Friday – Celebration of the Lord’s Passion – a continuation of Holy Thursday. Just as we ended in silence we begin in silence as the priest lays prostrate before the Altar of the Lord. We again prayerfully listen to the Passion of Jesus Christ, we offer prayers of petition for the world, we venerate the Cross (with a reverent bow due to COVID), we receive Holy Communion – bread only and again we leave in silence. Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil – Beginning after sundown, we gather in darkness and the Triduum continues with a new fire, a new Paschal Candle, as the Light of Christ enters the world. We prayerfully listen to Old Testament Scripture that presents the history of our ancestors in faith as they came to know God. Then we rejoice with great Alleluias as we once again sing Glory to God and we hear proclaimed the account of the Resurrection. This is the most holy of all nights in our Church. We live eternally because Jesus died and rose to New Life.
Easter Sunday – Celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord – On this day, the day that the stone was rolled away and the body of Jesus was no longer present. Gone from the tomb for he had risen! This is a day of great celebration – we, as a people of God, become an Easter people! We have received the gift of eternal life through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s plan for our salvation has come to light. We are saved! We must with grateful hearts REJOICE!
This is the journey we will share with Christians the world over this week. Set aside time now and make plans to take part, either in person or via live-streaming, all of the beautifully rich and deeply meaningful liturgies of Holy Week. Share this time with the people you love. Teach your children and your grandchildren the gift of God’s love. Then go to live in the joy of the Risen Lord!