Today Catholic Christians celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – more commonly simply known as “Palm Sunday.” This is the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred week of the year for us Christians.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and continues through Holy Saturday.
This week, every diocese celebrates a Chrism Mass; in our diocese, we celebrate this on Tuesday. Representatives from every parish of the diocese come together for this special Mass.
In the Chrism Mass, the bishop and priests renew their sacerdotal (priestly) promises, and they bless the three oils, which the parishes will use during the coming year. The three oils are: Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick, and Sacred Chrism. A representative from each parish receives some of the oils to take back to their parish.
On Holy Thursday in the evening, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. At the beginning of the Mass, Lent officially ends, and we enter the smallest of the liturgical – or church – seasons of the year: Triduum. This Mass celebrates three important concepts: the institution of the Eucharist (Mass) at the Last Supper; the institution of the ordained Catholic priesthood; and the washing of the feet that symbolizes the servant-model of leadership that Jesus taught his disciples. After that Mass, the Sacred Hosts are removed from the tabernacle and moved to a location outside of the sanctuary, and the sanctuary lamp is extinguished.
On Good Friday, we do three specific things: read the Passion of the Lord according to St. John; venerate the Cross; and celebrate a Communion Service. In some parishes, such as our own, we have a Vía Crucis (live enactment of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus).
On Holy Saturday we celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass, the most complex and solemn Mass of the year. In addition to the Blessing of the new fire, Easter Candle, and water, we celebrate the sacraments of initiation for those who need them – Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist or Holy Communion. The Triduum ends on Holy Saturday, and then we get ready for a new church season – Easter.
And that is the good news I have for you on this Palm Sunday, 2018.