With the celebration the Palm Sunday we bring Lent to a close and begin Holy Week. The whole week is full of holy observances, starting with the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral on Monday night, then the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, the Stations of the Cross on Friday afternoon followed by the Good Friday Service, the blessing of the food on Holy Saturday at noon, the Easter Vigil on Saturday night and then Easter Sunday Mass. Even listing this schedule reminds me of how busy Holy Week can be. But is there another time in the year that the Church offers us such a rich array of liturgies and prayer services?
For Catholics, Holy Week is unlike any other time of the year. Through our Liturgical cycle, we follow Jesus to the Upper Room for the Last Supper, to the Praetorium and His Condemnation to death, to the Via Dolorosa and to Calvary where he gave his life, to the tomb where he is mournfully laid to rest and then ïnally to the empty tomb from which Our Lord has Risen.
Every day of the year, in the celebration of Mass, we essentially follow the same itinerary. But in the Triduum, we carefully and prayerfully reðect on the signiïcance and interconnectedness of each of these distinct events.
Over the centuries Catholic cultures throughout the world have developed distinct customs and traditions to enhance their celebration of each of the days of the Triduum. All of these reðect the diversity and richness of our world-wide, universal Church. A very common Latin American custom is to visit and pray in
seven different churches on Holy Thursday after the Mass, This is to symbolize their anticipation of the Lord’s cruciïxion on the next day. They are “waiting,” just as Jesus asked His disciples to wait for Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
One year, while still in the seminary, I had the privilege of celebrating the Filipino Easter tradition of Salubong. This Tagalog word meaning “to welcome” is the early Easter morning procession of a statue of Mary, dressed in black mourning garb, until she meets an image of the Risen Lord Jesus. The dirges and songs of mourning are exchanged for songs of praise and rejoicing; our disconsolate Blessed Mother has seen her Son risen from the grave. It is true that the Scriptures depict Mary Magdalene as the ïrst person to have seen the Risen Lord, but Catholic Filipinos, with their great devotion to Mother Mary, ïnd it inconceivable that the Lord would not have ïrst greeted and consoled his beloved mother before greeting any of his other disciples.
Eastern Catholics, who often observe a much more stringent Lenten regime than we do, will begin the Easter Vigil late Saturday night, followed by a feast featuring all of the favorite foods forgone in the past 6 weeks. The fact that they begin their feast at 2am or later is of little concern to the joyful community.
I invite all of you to try to participate in whichever events you can manage, allowing the Lord to ïll your heart and minds with the joy of knowing why Easter is the Greatest event in the History of the human race.
Thank you and God bless, Fr Charlie GoraiebBACK TO LIST