My dear people of St. Mary’s:
We have now come to Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. During the course of the next seven days, we will have the opportunity to walk with our Lord through the last week, and the most important moments, of His life on earth.
On Holy Thursday, the day we recall our Lord’s Last Supper with His Apostles, we will have Morning Prayer at 9:00 am in the Church. That evening, at 7:30 pm in the Church, we will celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This is the annual liturgy that includes the Washing of the Feet, in imitation of Our Lord’s act of service to His Apostles on that night. This symbolic act by the priest is called the “mandatum,” from the words Our Lord spoke at the Last Supper as recorded by St. John in his Gospel: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.” (“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jn 13:34) Following the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle, and is taken in procession to a repository in the lower Church. This act represents our Lord’s departure from the upper room, and his journey across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, where He would endure His Agony in the Garden. Parishioners are invited to spend some time with the Lord after Mass in adoration of the Holy Eucharist, because Jesus had reproached the Apostles that night: “So, you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Mt 26:40)
On Good Friday, we will have Morning Prayer in the Church at 9:00 am. Later, at 3:00 pm, we will have the Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Our Lord in Msgr. Ryan Hall. Each year this liturgy is conducted at the 3:00 o’clock hour because that was the hour of Our Lord’s death on the Cross. We read again the full story of the Passion, taken from the Gospel of St. John. This is the liturgy that includes the Veneration of the Cross, and the reception of Holy Communion, after which we all depart in silence. That evening, we will pray the Stations of the Cross in the Church at 7:30 pm.
On Holy Saturday we will have Morning Prayer in the Church at 9:00 am. That evening, at 7:30 pm in the Church, we will celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass. This Mass, the first Mass of Easter, begins with the blessing of the Easter fire, and the lighting of the Paschal Candle. Then there is sung the beautiful Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation), followed by a series of readings retelling our salvation history. We also sing the Gloria and the Alleluia for the first time since Lent began, and we renew our baptismal promises. This year for the first time in twelve years, St. Mary’s is blessed to have a catechumen for baptism at the Easter Vigil. Donna Brown, our longtime organist at the Hall, will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at that Mass. Please pray for Donna this week as she prepares to receive these Sacraments of Initiation, and we prepare to welcome this old friend as a new Catholic member of St. Mary’s.
Elsewhere in this bulletin you will find the complete schedule for Holy Week and Easter. Do not forget that this Monday, April 14, is the diocesan Day of Penance, and confessions will be heard in the church from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm continuously.
Also, I want to remind you that Good Friday is the day to begin the Divine Mercy Novena, which concludes just prior to the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter, April 27). On that day we will have a special Divine Mercy Mass at 3:15 pm in the church. From 1:00 to 3:15 pm we will have special Divine Mercy devotions, and extra priests will be available to hear confessions in the lower church. You will find a flyer with more details in this week’s bulletin, and pamphlets with the Divine Mercy Novena can be found in the vestibules of the Church and Msgr. Ryan Hall.
I pray that you and your families may have a prayerful and reflective Holy Week.