Category Archives: Holy Week

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Week 2019 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)

Paschal Triduum

The most striking worship celebrations of the Christian church happen every year at the end of the Lenten season. There is no greater contrast between darkness and light than the eclipse and glory that were experienced by Jesus’ disciples between the Last Supper and Easter morning. For centuries, Christians have marked the progression of these events through worship. They reenact these bedrock events to honor Christ, celebrate salvation, and grow in the way of Jesus through imitation and reflection. This period of time in the Church’s calendar has traditionally been referred to as the Paschal Triduum or “The Three Days.”

“The events framed by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his resurrection are some of the most dramatic and theologically important of the entire scriptural narrative. These days feature not only the drama of the triumphal entry, trial, last supper, and crucifixion but also Jesus’ poignant prayers and prophetic teachings. John’s gospel devotes eight of its twenty-one chapters to this week alone—reminding us of a common observation that the gospels are “passion narratives with long introductions.” The week begins with Passion/Palm Sunday and ends with the “three days” (also called the Triduum, from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Easter Day), the period during which we mark Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection.”
-from The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd Edition.

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Quote: Augustine on the Evening of the Last Supper

The Last Supper
Wikimedia Commons

“He laid aside His garments, when, being in the form of God, He emptied Himself; He girded Himself with a towel, took upon Him the form of a servant; He poured water into a basin, out of which He washed His disciples’ feet. He shed His blood on the earth, with which He washed away the filth of their Sins; He wiped them with the towel wherewith He was girded; with the flesh wherewith He was clothed, He established the steps of the Evangelists; He laid aside His garments, to gird Himself with the towel; that He might take upon Him the form of a servant, He emptied Himself, not laying aside indeed what He had, but assuming what He had not. Before He was crucified, He was stripped of His garments, and when dead was wound up in linen clothes: the whole bowl of His passion is our cleansing.”

-Augustine, as quoted by Thomas Aquinas in Catena Aurea on the Gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper 

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Week 2019 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Holy Week

Lent began over five weeks ago on Ash Wednesday. Over the course of this week, Christians around the world will re-enact and remember the days leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection. This journey towards the cross began on Palm Sunday with a commemoration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people who confessed and praised him as the Savior King later cry out, “…crucify him, crucify him!”

On Monday and Tuesday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany and purified the Temple, fulfilling prophecies from the Old Testament (ex. Malachi 3:1-5). In Jerusalem, tensions continued to run high between Jesus and the religious rulers. Wednesday of Holy week is traditionally called “Spy Wednesday” because the enemies of Jesus were watching him closely and looking for an opportunity to capture him. On this day, the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany is juxtaposed with the tragic betrayal of Judas.  

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Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Saturday 2018 (Year B)

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Saturday 2018 (Year B)

Holy Saturday

This is officially the last day of the Lenten fast. There has been some controversy as to what exactly happened on this day, but the profound symbolism of Christ resting in the tomb while humanity waits for the resurrection runs deep in Eastern and Western Christian traditions. On this day, we wait for his resurrection and rest in prayer, by meditating on his passion, death, and descent to the dead.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, also has been a traditional symbol connected to Holy Saturday. In Western Catholic tradition Mary represents the entire Church on Holy Saturday, “As she awaited in faith for the victorious triumph of Her Son over death on the first Holy Saturday, so we too wait with Mary on the present Holy Saturday.” This prayerful waiting has been called the “Ora della Madre” or Hour of the Mother.

God does not redeem from afar. The Word descended into our humanity; the Lord descended into the depths of our suffering; Christ descended into the very realm of death itself in order to set free its captives. There is life in the midst of death because love dwells in it. Thanks be to God.

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Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Good Friday 2018 (Year B)

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Good Friday 2018 (Year B)

Good Friday

Good Friday is a reminder of the darkness experienced by Christ on our behalf. Out of true death, comes true life. His death and resurrection comprise the mysteries at the very heart of Christian faith. On this day, Christ became the, “…Paschal (Passover) Lamb of our salvation, by whose blood we have been purchased unto God as His own consecrated people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Christians today gather at the foot of the cross with Mary the Lord’s Mother, the beloved disciple John, the repentant Mary Magdalene and her several companions, the confessing Centurion and all others who have, down through the ages…(been) made holy by the redeeming act of the God who loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

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Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Maundy Thursday 2018

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Maundy Thursday 2018

Maundy Thursday

“Maundy Thursday marks three key events in Jesus’ last week: his washing of his disciples’ feet, his institution of the Lord’s Supper, and his new commandment to love one another. This service begins the Triduum, the three-day period from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Easter Day. The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples (John 13:34). In other words, this is “new commandment Thursday.” -from The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd. Edition.

On this day, Jesus commemorated the Passover meal with his disciples, an observance of God rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. In celebrating this observance, Jesus was pointing to the new covenant he would make with God’s people, rescuing them from spiritual slavery to sin and death. Before the meal, he washed the feet of his disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist, Mass). In so doing, our servant King provided a means of grace and an example for us to follow. Christian participation in these practices reflects upon the new command of Jesus to, “Love each other as I have loved you.”

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Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Week 2018 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Liturgy Letter Newsletter – Holy Week 2018 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Passion Week: Journeying Toward the Paschal Mystery

Lent began over five weeks ago on Ash Wednesday. Over the course of this week, Christians around the world will re-enact and remember the days leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection. This journey towards the cross began on Palm Sunday with a commemoration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people who confessed and praised him as the Savior King later cry out, “…crucify him, crucify him!”

On Monday and Tuesday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany and purified the Temple, fulfilling the prophecy from the Old Testament (ex. Malachi 3:1-5). In Jerusalem, the tension continued to mount between Jesus and the religious rulers. Wednesday of Holy week is traditionally called “Spy Wednesday” because the enemies of Jesus were watching him closely and looking for an opportunity to capture him. On this day, the adoration of Mary of Bethany is juxtaposed with the tragic betrayal of Judas.

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