My dear people of St. Mary’s:
This weekend we come to Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. This is the most important and solemn week of the Church’s liturgical year. So here is a preview of what is to come.
Holy Week begins with what is called “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion”. As we do each year, Mass begins at the door of the Church, where we read the Gospel account of the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The palms, which you will receive upon entering the Church, are blessed during the entrance procession with Holy Water. The water which we will use for this rite contains water from both the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. This water was brought back from Israel by me at the time of my last pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During that Mass we will read the Passion according to St. Mark. Red vestments are worn on Palm Sunday to remind us of our Lord’s suffering.
Monday, March 26, is our annual Diocesan Day of Penance. Every Catholic Church in the dioceses of Rockville Centre, Brooklyn and New York will have priests in the confessional from 3:00 to 9:00 pm. Here at St. Mary’s, I will be in the confessional from 2:00 to 10:00 pm. Please make use of the Sacrament of Confession this Lent.
On Wednesday, March 28, we conclude our Parish Lenten Mission with the talk, “St. Peter’s Rise”, which will be held at 1:00 pm in the Church, and repeated again at 7:00 pm in Msgr. Ryan Hall.
Thursday, March 29, begins what is known as the “Sacred Triduum”, or the “Sacred Three Days”. On Holy Thursday morning at 9:00 am we will have Solemn Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. This is not a Mass, but a prayer service with music and a short homily that usually lasts thirty minutes. Following that, I depart for the 11:00 am Chrism Mass with Bishop Barres at St. Agnes Cathedral. Each year the priests of the diocese renew their priestly vows at that Mass, and the Bishop blesses and distributes for each parish the three Holy Oils to be used in the Sacraments to be administered in the course of the next year. You may watch the Chrism Mass on Telecare (Cablevision channel 29/137, Verizon FiOS TV channel 296, and Charter Spectrum channel 162/471) or online at telecaretv.org. Holy Thursday evening has the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated at 7:30 pm in the Church. Following the Mass, we have the procession with the Blessed Sacrament down to the repository in the lower Church, where adoration will continue until Midnight.
Good Friday, March 30, begins with a 9:00 am Solemn Morning Prayer, followed by confessions in the Church until 12:00 noon. At 3:00 pm we will have the Good Friday Service of the Lord’s Passion with Holy Communion at Msgr. Ryan Hall. At this service we read the Passion according to St. John, as well as venerate the Holy Cross. This year our guest presider will be my good friend, Fr. Walter Kedjierski, the Vice-Rector of the Seminary. This liturgy dramatically ends in silence as all depart the Church. In the evening of Good Friday, we will have the Solemn Stations of the Cross with music in the Church at 7:30 pm.
On Holy Saturday, March 31, we again begin with the 9:00 Solemn Morning Prayer, followed by confessions until 12:00 noon. At 7:30 pm in the Church we celebrate the beautiful and solemn liturgy of the Easter Vigil. This Mass begins in darkness as we light the Paschal Fire, symbolizing that Christ the Light enters our world darkened by sin. We follow that with a number of readings from the Old Testament, summarizing Salvation History for us. Then lights come on, we sing the Gloria for the first time since Lent began, and we read the Easter Gospel, proclaiming our Lord’s Resurrection. This year we are blessed to have a catechumen, Saori Enright, who will be receiving her Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) at that Mass.
On Easter Sunday itself, we have our regular Mass schedule: 7:30 am, 9:00 am & 11:00 am in the Church; and 12:15 pm in Msgr. Ryan Hall. We hope you will join us for these beautiful services in the most Holy Week of our year.