7th April 2017
Reflection by Father John
This coming Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy week. It’s the most important week of the Church’s year. The week begins with Jesus entering Jerusalem triumphantly welcomed by the people. A few days later, on Good Friday, the people shout “crucify Him, crucify Him!” as Jesus is led out to his crucifixion and death. But the death of Jesus was not an end but a new beginning. On Easter Sunday we celebrate Christ’s glorious Resurrection. His death has brought us to life.
On Wednesday of Holy week the Priests and people of the diocese gather with the Bishop in the Cathedral to celebrate the Chrism Mass when the priests renew their Ordination promises and the Oils of Chrism and Catechumen are consecrated and blessed by the Bishop. On Thursday evening we celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper. Remembering the night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, broke it and said “this is my body which is for you; do this as a memorial to me”. In the same way he took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial to me”. Every time we celebrate Mass we re-present the one Sacrifice of Calvary and fulfil the Lord’s command to do this in his memory. (1 Cor.11: 23-26) After Mass we watch at the altar of repose, recalling Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
On Good Friday at 3pm (The time of our Lord’s death) we commemorate the passion and death of our Lord after which the church falls silent until the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil on Saturday evening is always celebrated after darkness has fallen and begins with blessing of the Easter fire and Paschal Candle from which the people’s candles are lit. The Easter Proclamation is sung and then we listen to several Old Testament readings which tell us the story of salvation history. Then the ‘Gloria’ is intoned, bells are rung to the accompaniment of an organ fanfare and the lights come on. After the New Testament reading, the Easter Alleluia is proclaimed as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The third part of the Vigil is the celebration of the ‘Baptismal Liturgy’ during which the Easter water is blessed, baptisms take place and those coming into full communion of the Catholic Church are received and confirmed while everyone present renews their own baptismal promises. The Vigil then moves into the liturgy of the Eucharist when once more we fulfil the Lord’s command at the Last Supper to do this in his memory.
The celebration of Easter continues for fifty days and concludes with the celebration of Pentecost.