Together with Christians around the world we are approaching a most holy and sacred week of remembrance and celebration. We will walk with Jesus, pray with and for him and remember with gratitude how he suffered to secure our salvation. You received your invitation to Holy Week on the day of your baptism. Come; bring your children and your grandchildren that they might come to know the story and the gift of New Life in Jesus Christ. Both this column and next week’s will include an understanding of the rich tradition of Holy Week.
Take time to share this with your family and friends.
Palm Sunday – the official liturgical title is “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion”, when as Christians we take part in processions to remind us of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Scripture the people lined the streets, waving palm branches and laying them on the ground before Christ. By this time in the life of Jesus, many had come to believe he was the Savior for which they had waited. We hold and wave palms because we KNOW he is the Savior! At this Mass the Passion of Christ is read.
Holy Thursday – At dusk, Lent ends and we take part in “Thursday of the Lord’s Supper”, reminding us of that last meal Jesus shared with his Apostles when he gifted the world with The Eucharist. Immediately following this supper, Jesus asked the Apostles to be with him in Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed of his Father to save him from what he knew in his heart must happen – all while his beloved Apostles fell asleep. How often in our lives have we “slept” rather than being fully present to Jesus?
This Mass begins with the Presentation of Holy Oils – these are the oils that Bishop Donald Kettler will bless at the “Chrism Mass” at the Cathedral of St. Mary on Thursday, April 6th at 7 PM. This Mass is a moving and solemn liturgy and in it you will witness a gathering of vested diocesan priests who come, or send someone in their name, to receive the three oils to be used in ministry to the people of their parishes. The oil is olive oil – it really has no scent. However, fragrance of balsam or myrrh (yes, one of the gifts from the Three Kings to Baby Jesus), is added to the oil for Sacred Chrism – the most significant of these three oils: Oil of the Catechumen – marked on the vessel with OS, a Latin abbreviation for “Oleum Sanctorum”, although often the vessel will be marked with OC Oil of the Sick – marked on the vessel with an OI, a Latin abbreviation “Oleum Infirm”
Sacred Chrism – marked on the vessel with SC, a Latin abbreviation for “Sacrum Chrisma”
These oils are kept in a glass enclosed cabinet called an “ambry”. Here at St. Francis Xavier you will find the ambry on the left hand wall as you enter the church from the Gathering Place. Take your children there and let them see the oils. You will notice that the Sacred Chrism (SC) holds the highest place of honor in the middle. This oil is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. Oil of the Catechumen (OS) is used for those yet to be baptized. And Oil of the Sick (OI) is used for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
The Mass on Holy Thursday is a celebration of the sacerdotal priesthood; this is like the birthing of the priesthood celebrating the “institution of the Eucharist” referring to the actions and words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Before Jesus gifted us with the Eucharist, he knelt before each of his Apostles, becoming as a servant to them and washed their feet. This is called: The Mandatum or Foot Washing– This is a liturgical rite used only on Holy Thursday. The priest, who stands in persona of Jesus Christ, washes the feet of the people he serves in his parish. This ritual often includes poetic song with the words: “Do you know what I have done for you?” It is as if Jesus, himself is speaking to us and what he did for us was the ultimate act of servant hood – he gave his own life to save ours!
October 17, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC