What is Holy Week?
Lent is coming to an end and we are about to enter the most sacred time of the year. Holy Week commences on Palm Sunday, which recalls Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem. During Holy Week, Catholics commemorate the institution of the Eucharist (Holy Thursday), the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus (Good Friday), and His burial in the tomb (Holy Saturday).
How do Catholics celebrate Holy Week?
Palm Sunday commences with the procession of the blessed palms into the Church. A notable feature of the service is the reading of the Gospel of the Passion of Christ by three readers. The palms blessed at the Mass are later burnt and used to mark our foreheads on Ash Wednesday the following year.
Holy Thursday: We re-enact the Lord’s Last Supper which He shared with His apostles on the night He was betrayed and arrested. This is one of the most beautiful liturgies of the Church’s year as it recalls the institution of the Eucharist.
During the Mass, the priest washes the feet of twelve parishioners, just as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Priests all over the world also renew their sacred vows
Good Friday: During the 3.00 pm service, the faithful go forward to venerate the Cross. This gesture demonstrates our honour and respect for the sacrifice Jesus made for us. It is the most solemn day of the year for Catholics as it recalls Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
Holy Saturday: The Vigil Mass commences at sundown outside the Church where the Easter Fire is lit, and the Paschal candle is blessed.
During this night, we keep watch for the expectant rising of our Saviour. This is the Holiest of nights. After the Liturgy of the Word, the baptismal font is blessed and those who have prepared to be received into the Church, are baptised and confirmed. This is a very joyous occasion. At the conclusion of the Mass, we wish each other a Holy and Blessed Easter!
May this Holy Week be a time when we deepen our relationship with Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.