Next week begins the most important week in the Liturgical Year, the week we call Holy. It is these days that we recall in the deepest liturgical sense those events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ that bought us our salvation and give us hope of eternal life when we die. St. Mary’s is the only church certainly in this Diocese and probably in the surrounding dioceses that will offer the full Holy Week services in their Traditional form. St. Mary’s has been a pioneer in the effort to return to the Holy Week services in their fullness, and we have been the inspiration for other parishes throughout this country to do the same.
We begin with Palm Sunday: the blessing of the palms, the procession that recalls Christ’s entrance in Jerusalem, then the Mass, with the chanting of the Passion according to St. Matthew. The Masses of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week will be according to our normal schedule. The Traditional Mass at 7:30 am will have the Passions according to St. Mark and St. Luke instead of the Gospel reading. On Wednesday evening we begin the most solemn part of Holy Week with the moving service of Tenebrae, where we celebrate the Office of Matins for Holy Thursday at night. If you have never been to Tenebrae, I urge you to come. It is a moving and peaceful entrance to the Sacred Triduum.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated at 7 pm on Thursday night. This Mass, with its glorious but subdued solemnity, celebrates the institution of the Mass and of the Priesthood. At the end of the Mass we process with the Blessed Sacrament to be used for Communion on Good Friday to the chapel. The Sacrament is placed in a special tabernacle amidst trees and flowers like the garden of Gethsemane. There will be an opportunity to “watch” with Christ and to adore Him all night until 8 o’clock in the morning. Deacon Steve will lead the bus to visit the 7 churches of Norwalk at 9 pm.
On Good Friday there will be opportunity for Stations of the Cross in both English and Spanish. The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday will be at 3 p.m. This starkly beautiful service allows us to enter deeply into the Passion and Death of our Lord. That evening at 7 pm we will have our annual procession through the streets of Norwalk with the Cristo Muerto (the Dead Christ) and Our Lady of Sorrows. Bishop Caggiano will join us for this wonderfully moving observance that brings together the whole parish.
Last but not least is the Great Vigil of Easter. This is one of the oldest of all liturgical celebrations in the Church. The entrance into the dark church, the singing of the Exsultet, the prophecies, the blessing of the font with Baptisms, the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the triumphant First Mass of Easter—the culmination of what our faith is all about.
I constantly urge everyone to bring people to these services. If every family brings just one person to experience the wonder of Holy Week at St. Mary’s, we will have standing room only. Please pray and think about this. Anyone you bring will be truly blessed by Holy Week at St. Mary’s.
Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla