Holy Week Reflection

Does it seem like a long time ago that we heard that invitation to a holy Lent? Or has the time flown by? In either case, we are far on our journey to the cross, almost there. It will soon be Holy Week, and we will have the opportunity to walk together to the light of Easter, to new life, new hope, new joy.

I encourage everyone to make the services of Holy Week a priority. Attending Holy Week services greatly enriches our faith journey; sometimes, it is life-changing.

Sundown on Maundy Thursday through sundown on Easter is called the “Triduum,” a Latin word for a period of three days. The Triduum includes the services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil, and Easter Day. The liturgies of these three days are tied together; there is no dismissal from Maundy Thursday through the Great Vigil. The three days is a single time of worship.

Maundy Thursday is about the love of Christ for us. The day is named for the “novum mandatum,” the new commandment (mandate) of Jesus:  “love one another as I have loved you.” This is the night when our Lord gives us the Holy Eucharist. A typical meal is changed forever when Jesus says “take, eat; do this in remembrance of me.” It is only in light of the Resurrection that Jesus’ words make sense. Foot washing is about Jesus’ servant ministry and our servant ministry in the world. We kneel in humility and love and wash one another’s feet as we remember, not reenact, Jesus’ ministry, and for those who participate, it is a powerful experience of love.

On Maundy Thursday we consecrate (bless, make holy) sufficient bread and wine for Holy Communion on Good Friday. We do not consecrate bread or wine on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. After we receive communion tonight, we take the reserved Sacraments to our “altar of repose” in a set apart place in the church. This altar symbolizes the time that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death. We strip the altar bare just as Jesus was stripped of his clothes and tortured. We leave the church in silence this night. You may stay and pray in the church for as long as you choose. Our worship from now until Easter is a single service: you may notice that we have no dismissal from tonight until the conclusion of our Easter Day worship!

Good Friday and its liturgy is a solemn commemoration of, and participation in, our salvation through the victory of Christ’s death on the cross. His death destroyed death forever.

Holy Saturday is an empty day, the day when Christ lies in the tomb and we await his resurrection.

The Great Vigil of Easter is the traditional first celebration of Easter, held after sundown on Holy Saturday. This ancient service leads us from death to life with Christ with fire, light, word, water, bread and wine. We light a new fire – the new light of Christ in the world.

On Easter Day we continue the Easter Vigil’s celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection. We proclaim: Christ is risen! Alleluia!

– Catherine+

Holy Week Services 2024

Have you visited the Rector’s Corner recently? Mother Catherine has posted a new Lenten reflection. Please visit the Rector’s Corner!