The week that changed the world

March 20,2016 - 09:55 AM
Pope Francis venerates the holy cross with the image of the crucified Jesus Christ. (L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis venerates the holy cross with the image of the crucified Jesus Christ. (L’Osservatore Romano)

Known to many, the Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians. But how well do lay people know about the events that are celebrated at churches to commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Here’s an outline of the major activities during the week:

– To remember Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem, people gather outside the church and take part in a procession singing and waving branches of palm tree or other trees in their hands. A Mass is held inside the church with the reading of the St. Luke’s account of the passion of Christ.

– recollections and confessions are held at churches

– In the afternoon, at about 4 p.m., the congregation gathers inside the church for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  The event commemorates Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist, and the priesthood as well as the command of brotherly love.

– Two ritual actions stand out during the day: the washing of the feet and the celebration of the Eucharist. The ritual washing of the feet of 12 people who represent the apostles is a reminder for everyone to emulate Jesus’ humble servitude.

– After communion, the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by lighted candles and incense, is carried through the church to the Altar of Repose for the custody of the Eucharistic bread that will be distributed to the faithful on Good Friday. The Eucharistic procession reminds people of Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed so fervently through the night.

– On this day, we remember the passion and death of Jesus. In accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist. Holy communion is distributed to the faithful only during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion although it may be given at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration.

– The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is to take place in the afternoon, at about 3 o’clock.
It has three parts: liturgy of the word,  the veneration of the cross and holy communion.

– In most churches, the procession of the Sto. Entiero or the dead Christ follows after the celebration.

Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church.

– It calls to mind Jesus descent to the realm of the dead.

– In the evening, the Easter Vigil–the solemnity of all solemnities—is celebrated inside the Church. The celebration recounts the story of our salvation, from creation to resurrection and beyond.

– The sacred vigil starts with the blessing of the Paschal candle and the fire, the singing of the Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation), the expanded Liturgy of the Word that traces time through Salvation History, and ends with the Mass of the Resurrection.

-Another part of the vigil is the baptismal liturgy. In some churches, adult baptism is conducted for candidates who finished catechetical instructions in previous months. It is followed by the renewal of baptismal promises to “reject Satan and sin” and “to believe in the triune God” as the faithful holds lighted candles in their hands. Afterwhich, they are sprinkled with water to remind them of their baptism.

– The Alleluia, which has been omitted during the 40 days of Lent, is sang again.

At dawn of Easter Sunday, religious processions will re-enact the meeting of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus Christ in the “Sugat” which means “meeting” in Cebuano.

The Easter season lasts for 50 days and ends with Pentecost Sunday.

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TAGS: Good Friday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday

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