On this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion we enter into our most important week of the year as Catholics. The days of Holy Week are a time to step back and make time to pray and reflect upon the Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection. All of Lent has been leading us to this week and its culmination in the Paschal Triduum (Three Days of Easter). I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to join us for the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter.
Actually, these solemn celebrations form one great act of worship as together we ponder the wondrous love of God revealed in the dying and rising of Jesus. Once a year the Church invites us to break from our usual routine and save/savor these holiest of days. In addition to participating in the liturgy, here are some other ways we can keep these days holy:
During the night of Holy Thursday we are invited to “stay and keep watch” with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Following the Mass on Holy Thursday evening adoration will take place in the Divine Mercy Chapel until midnight.
On Good Friday we abstain from meat and eat only one full meal. A spirit of recollection and prayer should ideally mark all our time from Holy Thursday evening until the Great Vigil of Easter. But especially on Good Friday, between the hours of noon and three o’clock, a strict silence is observed – no television, no music, no games or entertainment. These are the hours that the Lord hung upon the cross.
On Holy Saturday the Lord rested in the tomb and so the Church rests, continuing the silence of Good Friday. No Masses can be celebrated until the Vigil, which must take place after night-fall. Again we should try to avoid television, games, unnecessary work, etc. Holy Saturday is meant to be a quiet and reflective day. As far as possible we should also continue the fast of Good Friday in anticipation of the great feast to come.
During the night of Holy Saturday the Church’s silence is broken as the Gloria is sung, bells are rung, and we break into cries of “Alleluia!” The darkness of the tomb, gives way to the light of the Resurrection embodied in the Easter Candle from which all receive the Light of Christ. Your family may want to have your own special “Easter Candle” at home. If you’re careful, you can even take some of the blessed fire home from the Vigil! (A small votive candle works for this.) We will also have plenty of consecrated baptismal water to bring home, another sign of the new life Jesus bestows on us by his rising from the dead. We break our fast after the Vigil and begin the Easter feast which lasts for 50 days.
May this week be truly “holy” for you and your family, so that your Easter may be filled with abundant joy in the Lord!