In just a few days, the Church will embark on our 40-day transformation in the season of Lent, preparing our hearts, minds, and souls for the Easter season. We will give up some earthly desires like meat, sweets, or social media – all in an effort to focus ourselves more fully on the mystery of our salvation and, in a very real way, to unite our sufferings with Christ on the cross. And as the Easter season approaches, the Church in her goodness gives us a whole week in which to focus our hearts and minds even more intensely on the reality of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
Easter is the greatest celebration of the liturgical year! It is the highest feast we celebrate! Yet, Easter didn’t happen without the cross, and Holy Week offers us a time to recognize that more fully.
“The season of Lent is meant to be a retreat for the whole Church as we prepare for new life at Easter,” Fr. Godfrey says. “For 40 days, we strive to listen and watch more faithfully, to hear the voice of the Lord calling us to holiness. As these 40 days reach their zenith, Holy Week is an opportunity to move toward holiness as much as possible, as the necessary precursor to the new life Christ has in store for us. We celebrate the resurrection with a week of weeks — 50 days of Easter! How right, then, to spend the week before in intense preparation — for the good of our own souls and the good of the world!”
Holy Week, of course, will culminate with the celebration of the Easter Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday — when we celebrate the passion and death of our Lord without which the resurrection would not be possible.
“The Easter Triduum celebrates the Passover of the Christian people, where death no longer has the last word,” Fr. Godfrey says. “In one respect, the Paschal Triduum is one event over three days — from the beauty of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, with the washing of feet and the remembrance of the institution of the Eucharist, through Good Friday and the recalling of Christ’s passion and death and the horror of the Cross, to the gathering of the Church in the night, as the light of Easter dawns and the new life of the Church is made manifest in the newly initiated — it all points to the mercy of God and the outpouring of His love upon us in Jesus Christ. There is no more important liturgical celebration than those events lived by the Church each year.”
So come, spend some time this Holy Week intentionally preparing your heart and mind to enter the Easter season in a place of utter gratitude for the goodness of our God. Take the time to celebrate the Paschal Triduum! It will leave you a changed person.
“These liturgies, while not required by the Church, can have a wonderful impact on our faith, on our understanding of Divine Mercy, and upon our call to follow after Jesus, the King who became the servant,” Fr. Godfrey says.
On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be at 7 p.m. This liturgy is celebrated in the evening because it is when Jesus gathered with His disciples for the Last Supper. It is when Christ instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood! On Good Friday, we will celebrate the Service of the Lord’s Passion at 3 p.m., the traditional time of Jesus’s death. At 7 p.m. that evening, we will commemorate the Burial Service, during which we approach the tomb in musical reflection and offer our lives to God along with Jesus. Then, at 8 p.m. on Holy Saturday, we will celebrate the great Easter Vigil, when we welcome candidates and catechumens into the Church, and recall and rejoice in God’s tenacious desire to save His people.
Holy Week and the Easter season that follows offer us a particular opportunity to recognize the goodness of God! May we make a concerted effort this year to enter into the celebrations in a way that brings honor and glory to Him!