Today we start the most solemn and wonderful week in the Christian calendar – Holy Week! It is not only a week to remember historical events, but to enter into the mystery of what God has accomplished through these historical events and what God is doing NOW in our lives. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community, broken like bread for the world’s life – a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace. So I invite you to share in the mystery of God’s love that is so much a part of this week. Come and celebrate the Liturgies of the three sacred days – the Paschal Triduum. While these liturgies are lengthy, when you enter the mystery they celebrate, time stands still! Come and be transformed!!
Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 PM is rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover which celebrates the historical event of the Israelites’ freedom from political slavery in Egypt. Jesus transforms this celebration into a new covenant, celebrating freedom from our slavery to sin and death for those who believe in Him. The bread of ancient freedom Jesus transforms into His very self – body, soul, and divinity – as food for the journey as his disciples. The priesthood of Jesus is rooted in the “mandatum” the command to be of service as He washed the feet of His disciples. That priesthood, shared with ALL the baptized, calls ALL his followers, not just the ordained, to be of service to others.
Holy Thursday also celebrates the institution of the ministerial priesthood shared by the ordained priests of the Church. Following Mass, the Eucharist will be processed to an altar of repose (this year in the PLC) where people can spend time in prayer and reflection, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, assenting to the will of the Father. Church will be open until midnight. Good Friday is the only day of the year when Mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world. The Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on
Good Friday at 3:00 PM will start with readings from scripture, a homily, Universal Prayers, then veneration of the wood of the Cross. The Church instructs that only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite. I realize this adds to the length of the service, but I believe the symbolism is worth it. The Liturgy concludes with the reception of Holy Communion using hosts that were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening.
The Easter Vigil Mass is the most important Mass of the entire Church year! It is even more significant than Christmas!! Starting in darkness we begin with the lighting of the Paschal candle – the symbol of Christ’s Resurrection and triumph over the darkness of death. We hear several scripture readings recalling our connection to our ancestors in faith. New members will be Baptized and Confirmed in the Church. We will renew our own baptismal promises, and be reminded that in Baptism we died with Christ, and because of that, we will share in His Resurrection. We will share in the Eucharist and become once again an Easter people! Join Us!