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The Liturgies of Holy Week & Easter Day

Palm Sunday, March 25 at

Palm Sunday begins with a festival procession marking Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The hymn “All Glory Laud and Honor” are typically used for the day. Palms are blessed. The palms remind us of the palm branches that were strewn along Jesus’ path as he entered the city. The celebratory tone of the beginning is quickly changed as the Passion of Our Lord is read dramatically. The service continues with the Holy Eucharist, and ends in silence.

Tenebrae, Wednesday, March 28 at 8 p.m.

Tenebrae draws its name from the Latin word for darkness. The office of Tenebrae, on Holy Wednesday, anticipates the monastic prayers of the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.) As Jesus’ death on the cross approaches, the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the Psalms are sung, and candles are extinguished during the liturgy. At the end of the service, the last light is hidden, but not extinguished. After a loud noise recalling the earthquake that rolled away the stone at Jesus’ tomb, the candle returns to its place showing “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Maundy Thursday, Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. (Ordinary Form)

Maundy Thursday is named for the “mandatum,” or commandment that Jesus gives to love one another as he loves us. The liturgy includes the washing of feet, an act of loving service. Jesus served his disciples by taking the lowest role as a servant. The priest follows in his Lord’s example, washing the feet of members of the parish. The next major act of Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood at the Last Supper. The altar is vested fully as we celebrate the Sacrament of Jesus’ body and blood. Rather than end as usual, the sacrament is carried to an altar of repose, and the main altar is stripped. This recalls Jesus’ capture and abuse at the hands of the authorities. The service ends in silence.

Good Friday, Friday, March 30 at 7 p.m. (Ordinary Form)

Good Friday is “God’s Friday.” This is the day that Our Lord died on the cross. St. John’s account of the Passion Gospel is read showing the triumph of Christ on the cross. The Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion is the central liturgy of the day. It includes the Solemn Collects, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion from the Sacrament consecrated at the Mass on Maundy Thursday.

Great Vigil of Easter,

Saturday, March 31 at 8:30 p.m. (Ordinary Form)

The central service of the day takes place in the evening. The Great Vigil of Easter is the primary Easter liturgy of the church. It begins in darkness with the kindling of a new fire and the lighting of the Paschal Candle. The Exsultet, an ancient hymn announcing Christ’s victory, is sung and readings recount God’s saving acts in the Old Testament. The liturgy continues with the Easter Shout “Alleluia Christ is Risen!” Baptisms are properly done this night, and the first Mass of Easter is celebrated.

Easter Day, Sunday, April 1 at 3 p.m.

Easter Day, the Sunday of the Resurrection is celebrated as a festival Sunday service. Each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. Therefore the liturgy of Easter Day looks a great deal like the worship offered throughout the year, but with special music and celebration.

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