Holy Week: What to Expect

PALM SUNDAY

Lauds: 9:15 a.m.

Mass: 10:00 a.m.

Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, when we remember Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Immediately after Lauds, the blessing and distribution of the palms take place. Each person receives a palm, and the clergy lead the faithful in procession around the Church, while joyful chants are sung culminating in the hymn “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” After the worshipers go to their seats, the Mass continues. During the Mass, the faithful hear the First of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew.

HOLY MONDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Each weekday in Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross are prayed. These stations recall Our Lord’s journey from condemnation to the tomb.

At the Mass, we will hear of Our Lord’s preparation for burial by the penitent woman who anoints him with fragrant oil.

HOLY TUESDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

During the Mass, the Second of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Mark, is read.

HOLY WEDNESDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Vespers & Rosary: 6:00 p.m.

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

During the Mass, the Third of the Passion Narratives, from the Gospel according to St. Luke, is read.

Following Vespers, the first of three Tenebrae services is prayed. Tenebrae is a service of prayer conducted in near-darkness. This service includes a candle ceremony, where candles are extinguished at the end of each psalm and the Benedictus. The central feature of this service is the Lamentation of Jeremiah as it applies to Our Lord’s Passion.

HOLY THURSDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Mass: 7:00 p.m.

Vespers & Stripping of the Altar: 8:30 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

The Institution of the Mystical Supper is the focus for The Mass of the Last Supper. The Gloria in Excelsis is restored and the Readings recall the events when Our Lord gathered with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. After all have received Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament is processed to the Altar of Repose where it remains for adoration. After Mass, toward the end of Vespers, the Altar is stripped while Our Lord’s prayer on the cross (Psalm 22) is solemnly chanted. Following Vespers, the second Tenebrae service is prayed.

GOOD FRIDAY

Stations of the Cross: Noon

Solemn Liturgy (Mass of the Pre-Sanctified): 7:00 p.m.

Tenebrae: 9:00 p.m.

Our Lord’s Death on the Cross is commemorated with the Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday. The service is moving in its starkness and consists of four parts: hearing the Lord’s Word, the Bidding Prayers, the Veneration of the Holy Cross, and the reception of Holy Communion from the Pre-Sanctified. During the first part, the faithful hear the fourth Passion Narrative from the Gospel according to St. John.

Following the Liturgy, the third Tenebrae service is prayed.

PASCHAL VIGIL

Blessing of Easter Baskets & Animals: Noon

Vigil Mass: 7:30 p.m.

The Western rite knows two celebrations of Our Lord’s Resurrection. The first and most ancient is the Great Vigil which, in the first seven centuries, was kept throughout the night and climaxed with the celebration of Holy Communion at dawn on Easter Day. In the past 13 centuries, the Great Vigil has been assigned to Holy Saturday afternoon or morning.

During the Paschal Vigil, worshipers gather quietly in the entrance for the blessing of fire. Then the Deacon leads the faithful into the Nave. While the worshipers are taking their places, the ancient Easter hymn of praise (Praeconium) is sung and the candles of the faithful and throughout the church are lit. Following this candlelight ceremony, Old Testament prophecies are read. This Service of Readings is followed by the blessing of the Baptismal font. The Litany of the Saints leads the faithful to a joy-filled celebration of Holy Mass. The service concludes with an abbreviated form of Vespers.

EASTER SUNDAY

Lauds: 9:15 a.m.

Mass: 10:00 a.m.

The Resurrexi Mass (“Mass of the Resurrection”) is the chief celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection. It commences with the blessing of the faithful with the holy water that was blessed at the Great Vigil. Then the Mass proceeds according to the usual order and is augmented with the beautiful Easter sequence (Victimae paschali laudes) as well as many familiar Easter Scripture readings and hymns.