Holy Week: Reenacting the Passion of Our Lord

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It begins on March 24th this year and ends on April 1st. The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. Holy Week includes…

  • Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
  • Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday), the institution of Communion and the betrayal by Judas.
  • Good Friday, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
  • Holy Saturday, the Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.

The time from sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Day is also  known as the Triduum, which is Latin for “three days.”

Holy Week observances began in the earliest days of the Church, when devout people traveled to Jerusalem at Passover to reenact the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.

Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover

The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on Thursday (making it Friday by Jewish reckoning). Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. Judas betrayed Jesus, who spent the rest of the night being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate. The following morning the Crucifixion took place just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath

Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. This is the second day in the tomb.

Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits

On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after the Sabbath. The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the new creation.