Holy Week is the holiest week of the year and a time when all Catholics should try to alter their schedule to participate in the liturgy of the church. The week begins with Palm Sunday, April 10 and the blessing and distribution of Palms. The celebration of Palm Sunday has two jarringly different moods. The Mass begins with the blessing and in many cases procession with palms while singing jubilant hymns of triumph and praise. But the gospel of the day, this year from
Saint Luke, is somber and reminds us of the rejected Suffering Servant who will be beaten, mocked, scourged and led to crucifixion. Palm Sunday sets the
stage for a very dramatic week as we recall and represent the events of our redemption in Christ.
On Thursday, April 12, Bishop Checchio will gather with all the priests of our diocese to bless the Holy Oils of Catechumens, Chrism and Oil of the Sick. This
mass will be at 4pm in Saint Francis Cathedral, Metuchen, and the faithful are invited to participate in person or to watch the live-stream from their homes.
Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, known as the Triduum, is the most solemn celebration of the entire liturgical year. The Triduum is really one
long celebration of the Last Supper, the Passion and Crucifixion and the death and Resurrection of Christ. Even though these are not holy days of obligation,
Catholics who can do so should rearrange their schedule and participate in all or at least some of these special events.
Holy Thursday offers us an opportunity to participate in the sacred moment when Christ gave us the gift of the Eucharist and the ordained priesthood. A
highlight of this celebration is the washing of feet and the Lords command to “love one another”. This Mass is at 7:30pm, Thursday, April 14.
Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion is a solemn celebration in three parts, the proclamation of the Passion from Saint John’s gospel, the veneration of the cross and the reception of Holy Communion from the hosts consecrated at the Mass of the Lords Supper the previous day. This celebration is at 7:30pm on Friday, April 15. In addition to this we have an outdoor celebration of the Stations of the Cross at 2pm.
Our Lenten weeks of fasting and prayer are directed to the great celebration of the Resurrection which begins with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April
16, at 8pm. This celebration has four parts, the blessing of the new Easter Fire and the preparation of the Paschal Candle and singing of the Easter Proclamation;
an elongated celebration of the Liturgy of the Word; the blessing of the Baptismal Font and baptism of the Elect, and finally the celebration of the Eucharist.
On Easter Sunday we continue to celebrate and rejoice in the good news of the Resurrection.
I hope that you will try to make time in your schedule this week to join your brothers and sisters as we celebrate with great solemnity the key events of our
Salvation in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Happy Holy Week and Easter,