Welcome to Holy Week

March 24, 2024

Today we begin the most sacred time of the Church’s year—Holy Week. I want to give you a brief explanation of each of the events.    

Palm Sunday

At the beginning of this Mass, we celebrate the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt. He was greeted by the crowds with shouts of “Alleluia!” and with the people placing palm fronds on the ground like a red carpet. We then process into church and begin the Mass.
At the Liturgy of the Word, we read from the Gospel according to Mark, which will be read with two lectors joining the priest, and the people joining in on certain passages.

The Chrism Mass

This liturgy, at 7 pm, on Tuesday, March 26, is celebrated by Bishop Iffert and all of the priests of the diocese. This is the most important diocesan celebration of the year. There will be representatives from every parish. The bishop will lead the priests in a renewal of the sacred promises that they made at their ordinations and will consecrate the sacred oils (the Oil of the Infirm, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism.)
At the end of Mass there will be a procession of the banners from each parish. The parish representatives will carry the banner and will collect the oils for their parish.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

On Holy Thursday, March 28, we recall the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. We will also re-enact the washing of feet that Jesus celebrated with His Apostles at the Last Supper.
At the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle and is processed through the church to the St. Joseph altar, where it will be exposed for one hour for adoration. After the adoration, the church will be stripped for Good Friday.

The Passion of the Lord

There is no Mass scheduled anywhere on Good Friday, March 29. At 12:05 pm we will celebrate the Passion of the Lord. This begins in silence, as the priest and ministers process into church. When they reach the sanctuary, the ministers kneel on the steps, and the priest prostrates himself on the sanctuary floor for a short period of time. They then stand and go to their places. At the end of the Liturgy of the Word, the Passion of the Lord from the Gospel of John is read. This is followed by the reading of the special Prayers of the Faithful for that day.
Next is the Veneration of the Cross. We have a relic of the True Cross, so it will be carried up in procession. As the priest holds the relic, the congregation is invited up to venerate it by genuflecting towards it, kissing it, touching it, or bowing to it.
Following the veneration is the distribution of the Eucharist. As there is no Mass, hosts that were consecrated at the Mass on Thursday are brought out and distributed. Then the priest and the ministers process out of church in silence.

The Easter Vigil

The most sacred of all the liturgies the Church celebrates each year is the Easter Vigil on March 30. That Mass begins with the Liturgy of Light. The church is darkened, and a small fire is lit on the front portico of church. The Easter (Paschal) candle is lit from the fire and is carried into church. The people follow the candle, and about halfway up the aisle their candles are lit. Coming to the sanctuary, the Easter candle is placed in its holder and is incensed by the priest. An ancient hymn, entitled the Exultet is chanted. The lights are turned on during the singing of the Gloria.
The Church offers us seven Old Testament readings, and two New Testament readings for our Liturgy of the Word. We are allowed to just do two Old Testament and two New Testament readings, rather than the full set of readings.
Following the Liturgy of the Word, we have the Liturgy of Initiation. Usually this begins with baptism. Unfortunately, we do not have any baptisms this year.  There will be a renewal of baptismal promises followed by the Sprinkling Rite, as we all rededicate ourselves to live out our discipleship. We do have one young man who will be received into the Catholic Church and Confirmed.
The rest of the Vigil Mass is as usual.

Easter Day

At the Easter morning Masses, the renewal of baptismal promises will take place, but otherwise the Masses are as usual.
—Fr. Mike Comer

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