Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ask Father: What is "Holy Week"?

Holy Week is the anniversary of the last week of Christ's life on earth.

It begins on Palm Sunday (April 5 this year) with the celebration of Our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the rightful king and ends after the reading of the Passion (the account of Christ’s sufferings and death, from St. Mark’s Gospel this year). On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Mass is said as usual.

After Wednesday (sometimes called “Spy” Wednesday, because of Judas’ treachery), the Sacred Triduum (Latin for “three days”) begins: Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Holy Thursday’s Mass is a celebration of the Last Supper, which was the first Mass ever offered. Three great gifts are recalled on this night: the Holy Eucharist, the priesthood, and the new commandment to love one another as Christ loves us.

Good Friday is the only day when the Church allows no Masses to be said; the afternoon service vividly recalls Our Lord’s suffering and death on the Cross.

Holy Saturday passes in watchful prayer at the tomb of Christ, until nightfall when, at the Easter Vigil Mass, we celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead. Finally, Easter Sunday is the celebration of the Lord’s glorious Resurrection.

(Photo: Holy Week in Sevilla, Spain. The "Ask Father" series is offered through the kindness of Father Charles Johnson, CHC, USNR, currently deployed with the USS Theodore Roosevelt.)

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