Hey everyone, sorry for the longer unexpected hiatus. Things got busy there for a minute. I also want to mention now that there will be some changes to the website coming soon. We’ll be rearranging things, but don’t worry, it is all still there.
I’m taking a break from the Cultural Commentary series today to talk about Holy Week (next week!) and some preperatory practices.
I’ll start by reminding everyone that Holy Thursday and Good Friday are not holy days of obligation, so if you can’t make it to mass that is ok. Easter is a holy day.
For those of you who don’t know what Holy Week is, here is a good description from the Catholic News Agency:
Holy Week observances began in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the Church, when devout people traveled to Jerusalem at Passover to reenact the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.
Egeria was a Christian who traveled widely during the period of 381-385 and wrote about Christian customs and observances in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. She described how religious tourists to Jerusalem reenacted the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday afternoon, the crowds waved palm fronds as they made a procession from the Mount of Olives into the city. Of course, the observances must have begun quite a number of years before Egeria witnessed them, or they wouldn’t have been so elaborate. It’s just that Egeria’s description is the earliest we still have. The tourists took the customs home with them. Holy week observances spread to Spain by the fifth century, to Gaul and England by the early seventh century. They didn’t spread to Rome until the twelfth century.
The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ.
Holy Week is the same in the eastern and western Church, but because eastern Christians use the Julian Calendar to calculate Easter, the celebrations occur at different times.
To the people who like to challenge Catholic tradition, all four of the Gospels tell us that the Last Supper and Crucifixtion took place on the preperation day before the Jewish Sabbath. They all also detail to us that the Ressurection took place on the first day of the week; Matthew, Mark, and Luke state it was the day after the Sabbath and John implies it.
But Holy Week begins with Passion Sunday, more commonly known as Palm Sunday. This is celebration of the day that Jesus returned to Jerusalem.
Holy Week is very important to us because it reminds us what Christ went through before his Crusifixion and Ressurection.
If you don’t have any traditions for Holy Week, now is your chance to start them! The one that I reccomend most is praying the Way of the Cross and going to a Good Friday service. You can find the St. John Paul II version of the Stations here on our website. You could also take this Saturday or Holy Saturday and watch Mel Gibson’s the Passion (rated R) or the more recent (and PG-13 rated) Son of God.
You can also find the readings for each day of Holy Week on the USCCB website.
The National Catholic Register offers some other interesting ideas to help you make the most of Holy Week. You can find those here.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Holy Week and you can expect more new posts after Easter.
May the dogma of the Catholic Church live loudly from within you,