Sunday, February 20, 2005

Writing about Holy Week

I had fun writing this up just now for my church's March newsletter. This is a fairly "high church" Episcopal church, so we're into this stuff. Slightly edited to drop all church-specific refs :)

Holy Week and Easter at my church

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, March 20, includes remembrance of Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and moves on to a Gospel reading that looks ahead to Christ's passion -- his death on the cross.

Confession and the rite of reconciliation (Book of Common Prayer p. 446) are available with Fr. --- during Holy Week by appointment, for those interested.

The ancient service of Tenebrae will take place on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 23, in the evening. This service originated in the 8th century, based on monastic times of prayer, and includes the gradual extinguishing of many candles, the only source of light.

On Maundy Thursday, March 24, in the evening, St.--'s will celebrate the last Holy Eucharist until the Easter celebrations, with the traditional foot washing as part of the service. The service will be followed directly by stripping of the altar and removal of the consecrated elements to the chapel, where the overnight vigil will begin.

Good Friday, the day we commemorate Christ's crucifixion, has a special focus between noon and 3 pm, the hours Christ was on the cross. At noon the stations of the cross, through which we remember Christ's path to the cross that day, will take place in and around the church. At 1 pm, the Great Litany will be said in the church (BCP p. 148). At 2 pm, the Daughters of the King will lead prayers for our church family, part of the Lenten parish prayer cycle. At 3 pm, the Liturgy for Good Friday (BCP p. 276) will take place.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting, suspended between Christ's passion on Good Friday and the celebration and joy of Easter.

The Great Vigil of Easter (BCP p. 285), one of the most ancient and joyous customs of the Church, begins [after dark] on Saturday, March 26, with the kindling and blessing of fire in the courtyard to light the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle will be carried into the church, water will be blessed, and the great salvation story will be told in a series of readings. The Vigil always includes either baptisms or a renewal of our baptismal vows, and the service gains momentum until the alleluias, not heard since Ash Wednesday, burst forth. Then the first Eucharist of Easter will be celebrated.

On Easter Day, Sunday, March 27, the joyful, celebratory services of the Sunday of the Resurrection will take place. Everyone is welcome to bring cut flowers for the flowering of the cross just before the services. St. --'s traditional Easter egg hunt and celebration will take place in the courtyard between the services. No Sunday school on Easter Day.

For home and family life in Holy Week, resources and ideas are available at parishioner [me]'s site, Holy Week, at Faith at Home.


That was fun! I even got to look up the likely dates for Tenebrae in a book I got once from the Liturgical Press at a great price, Fire and Light in the Western Triduum: Their Use at Tenebrae and at the Paschal Vigil, LOL!


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