Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we begin Holy Week, I want to encourage you to take part in the liturgies that celebrate the mystery of the redemption of our souls and a new birth to the great hope of eternal life through our faith in Christ Jesus. Today, this Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem but also His Passion and death. Jesus did not come to take on worldly power but to forgive us our sins and to give His very life to us so that we might share the life of God for eternity. This was accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross and His Resurrection. This we celebrate at every Mass. In a specific way, we commemorate the institution of the Mass on Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We will have Mass at 7:00 p.m. at St. John the Baptist, followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, our Lord’s body, out of the Church and to an altar of repose, set up in the chapel. The chapel will be open until 9:30 p.m. for Adoration.
On Good Friday, we commemorate our Lord’s Passion and death at 1:00 p.m. at St. John the Baptist and at 6:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart. The Passion account from John’s Gospel will be read, followed by the veneration of the cross and distribution of Holy Communion. All leave in silence after the Good Friday liturgy.
The Easter Vigil will be celebrated on Holy Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart. There is no 4:00 p.m. Mass that day. The Easter Vigil is the celebration of God’s plan of salvation for all of humanity beginning with the creation of this world, following the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The readings that are proclaimed reflect this reality. The Easter fire is lit and from it the Paschal candle is blessed, the symbol of the risen Christ. The liturgy begins in darkness but ends in light, symbolic of Jesus overcoming the darkness of death and sin.
Easter Sunday Masses will be held at the normal times for both parishes. During these Masses we renew our baptismal promises – our response to the great gift of eternal life won by our Savior and given to us at Baptism.
No Masses are celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday except the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil. No sacraments may be celebrated these days except the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the Anointing of the Sick. During these days, known as the Sacred Triduum, the Church is commemorating Jesus’ suffering, His dying, His descent to the dead and His Resurrection. As Jesus was three days in the tomb, the Church keeps a memorial with Him, realizing that our Savior is united with us in both life and death. On Good Friday, the Church observes a day of Fast and Abstinence. All those age 14 and over abstain from meat. Everyone ages 18 to 59 fasts. The fast means just one meal. Food may be taken at other times during the day provided it is less than the amount of one meal. The paschal fast is also encouraged for Good Friday.
I pray that you will have a blessed Holy Week and I encourage you to take part in as many of the liturgies as possible.