From the Pastor: Holy Week
This weekend we commemorate the second Sunday in Passiontide, or Palm Sunday. That means that Holy Week is upon us! There are glorious, though sorrowful, liturgies during this week that I hope you will be able to attend and participate in. The Chrism Mass is held at the Cathedral of St. Jude on Tuesday at 11:30. Though I would love to see how this Mass is done in the Traditional RIte, that will not be the case this year. Bishop Parkes has not been celebrating Mass or Confirmations for a couple of months now due to his ongoing (but improving) foot condition so I am not sure if he will be the celebrant or not. At this Mass, the Bishop blesses the three oils which will be used for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Extreme Unction (the Sacrament of the Sick), and Holy Orders. It is always a beautiful Mass. You are all welcome to attend or to watch it live streamed on the diocesan webpage.
On Wednesday of Holy Week, at 7:00 pm, we will have the first of three Tenebrae services. Tenebræ is the name given to the service of Matins and Lauds belonging to the last three days of Holy Week, the Triduum. (Matins and Laudes are two parts of the Breviary which priests and religious pray daily. For Tenebrae, they are chanted by a schola in a very solemn tone. The church is in darkness except for candlelight. Candles are ceremoniously extinguished after each Psalm is completed, adding a reverence not often experienced while praying the Hours. You are welcome to come even if you are unable to stay for the whole ceremony, which will take approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours each day. I will be hearing confessions during each Tenebrae service so you can listen with a clean soul!) Holy Thursday's Tenebrae is traditionally "anticipated", or chanted the evening before the actual day. This was done for practical reasons, as the Chrism Mass, which would be a long and complicated Mass for which to prepare and to celebrate, was traditionally held on Holy Thursday morning. No morning parish Masses were allowed so that the priests could join the Bishop at the Chrism Mass. Yet every parish had a Mass later, a Mass with plenty of “extras” in it, on Holy Thursday evening, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until at least midnight (or even all night long). The Bishop, the priests, the sacristans, the altar boys, the choirs, and many other people would probably need burials the following day if all of that was done (and done well) on Holy Thursday. The next day being Good Friday, when no Requiem Masses are allowed, they decided to move Tenebrae to the evening before. Whew! But wait, then something else happened. After the new Rites came out, Tenebrae services stopped, another Catholic tradition supposedly but not really done away with by Vatican II. Also, the Bishops were given permission to move the Chrism Mass to another, more convenient day. So now most priests, not celebrating Tenebrae and having already gone to the Chrism Mass two days before, just have a free day. Don’t get me wrong, most of us will be using that day to do last-minute preparation for the evening Mass, for the Good Friday service and for the Easter Vigil and Easter Masses, so we will be thankful for the uninterrupted hours, but it ain’t like the old days! Our next two Tenebraes will be on Good Friday and Holy Saturday mornings at 6:30 am both days.
The Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday will begin at 9:00 pm. We get the late time slot this year and St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission gets the early one, a reversal from last year. During the Mass, the ceremonial Washing of the Feet will take place, a rare time that the Mass is ever interrupted for anything. After Mass there is a procession, taking the Blessed Sacrament to a Repository, as the main tabernacle will remain empty for the next two days. Adoration will end, for most people, at midnight. (Just ask if you wish to spend the night.) During Adoration we will have the ceremonial Stripping of the Altar, which will remain bare except for a short time during the 3:00 pm Solemn Good Friday liturgy which includes Adoration of the Cross and a Communion service. Holy Saturday morning, after the previously mentioned Tenebrae, we will have, at 10:00 am, the traditional Blessing of the Easter Baskets, which will be filled, as last week’s bulletin showed, with wine, cheese, meats, dairy, eggs, and many other such things that were given up for Lent but will be a part of the Easter Feast.
Finally, at the end of the week, Easter begins! Last year we had the late starting time of 11:00 pm. This year we begin at 8:00 pm. The blessing of the New Fire and Paschal Candle will take place outside in front of the church. Once inside there is too much to describe, but we will have someone entering into the Church and receiving several Sacraments. Ashley Durand, whom some of you may already know, especially through CEW and CGS, will be making a Profession of Faith and officially enter in the Catholic Church, then be Confirmed, exchange Vows of Holy Matrimony with Justin, and, at the Mass, receive her First Holy Communion! (Psst... Justin, you can forget the calendar date of your anniversary as long as you remember that you were married at the Easter Vigil!)
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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