Catholics Observe Holiest Week of the Year

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Here is an overview of the Holy Week celebrations that will be held here and around the World.

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Click here to see photos of how our parishes and schools are journeying through Holy Week.

HOLY THURSDAY – March 29, 2018
The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated on Holy Thursday and we hear in the Scriptures about Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples. Not only do we hear about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, but we see and experience it. On Holy Thursday, the Presider following the example of Christ, will take off his outer vestment and wash the feet of several members of the assembly. This simple ritual reminds us that we as followers of Christ are called to be humble servants of those in need.

GOOD FRIDAY – March 30, 2018
The celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the principal celebration of the day, traditionally is celebrated at 3:00 P.M. and sometimes there is another celebration later in the day. Good Friday is the most sober day of the entire Church year. The altar is bare, without cloths, candles or cross. There is no Mass on this day. It is a day of fasting. There are no greetings, genuflections, opening songs, or processions. We simply come and prostrate in humble submission before the word and the glorious cross of Christ. The Liturgy consists of three parts: The Liturgy of the Word, The Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. In the Veneration of the Cross, a large cross is brought forward, unveiled and presented to us. We come forward to kiss or touch this instrument of torture. We, as church, venerate the cross as an act of gratitude to Christ, who turned the wood of the cross an instrument of torture, into the means of our redemption and a sign of God’s infinite love. When we come forward to venerate the cross, we bring all the pain, hurt and suffering in our lives and unite them to the sufferings of Jesus.

EASTER VIGIL – March 31, 2018
Easter is the most important celebration of the entire Liturgical year. The Easter Vigil is celebrated on the night before Easter Sunday and it celebrates the victory of Jesus over the darkness of Good Friday, his victory over sin and death. It has four main parts, the Service of Light, Liturgy of the Word, Celebration of Baptism and Confirmation, and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

During the Service of Light, the Easter Vigil begins outdoors with the lighting and blessing of the Easter fire. All participants are encouraged to gather outside for this beautiful ritual. The new Paschal Candle is then lit from the Easter fire. We process into a dark church (symbolizing the world without Christ) with the Paschal Candle chanting “Lumen Christi” (Light of Christ). The Service of Light concludes with the beautiful chanting of the Exultet which celebrates Christ’s victory over death.

During the Liturgy of the Word we listen to the stories of creation and redemption. St. Augustine in an Easter Vigil Sermon exhorts us: “Watch I tell you and pray. Let us celebrate the vigil internally and externally. Listen to God speak to us in the readings. Let us speak to him in our prayers. If we hear his words obediently, he to whom we pray will dwell in us.”

The Celebration of Baptism and Confirmation is very beautiful and rich with sacred ritual. The Elect (the unbaptized) are called forth and presented to the community. They process around the church as the community chants the Litany of the Saints invoking their intercession for these brothers and sisters who are about to enter the baptismal waters. The baptismal waters are solemnly blessed followed by the  Profession of Faith and Baptism. While the elect change into their white robes, those already baptized are sprinkled with the newly blessed holy water as we renew our own baptismal promises. The neophytes (the newly baptized) will then receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The Easter Vigil reaches its culminating point in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Easter Season
The fifty days from Easter Sunday (April 1, 2018) to Pentecost (May 20, 2018) are celebrated as one feast day. The entire season is considered one “great Sunday.” The first eight days of the Easter Season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord.

(Some text courtesy of the Diocese of Orlando)