Holy Week 2021 with Bishop Sullivan
Diocesan Parishes Masses /Services Live Streamed
Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday of Holy Week
Sacred Triduum Reflections | Easter
Who could forget Holy Week and Easter Sunday last year? The pandemic was raging and everything and everyone came to a halt. It was spiritually challenging, not being able to gather as a community in our parish churches for the Holy Days. However, we were fortunate to have livestreaming so that the faithful in the safety of their homes could watch and pray the liturgies that celebrate the central mystery of our faith, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Holy Week is our week and we have to work at making it holy. It is holy because of the events of salvation that are remembered during the week.
There are signs that the virus is slowly dissipating and the restrictions on public gatherings are incrementally being lifted. This Holy Week we can assemble together in limited numbers while still observing distancing protocols. More and more of us have received the vaccination. Many will observe Holy Week and Easter in their parish church. However, until the coast is clear the bishops of New Jersey have agreed to continue the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Those who wish to participate personally in the ceremonies of Holy Week will find their churches open while live-streaming will continue for those who are at home.
Holy Week is our week and we have to work at making it holy. It is holy because of the events of salvation that are remembered during the week. Participating in the liturgies whether through livestreaming or in person assist our growth in holiness. The liturgical ceremonies of Holy Week are not a reenactment of the events surrounding the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rather, through them we enter into the mystery by which the Lord gained for us our salvation. It is not as if we are watching a drama or viewing a theatrical production. The Crucified-Risen Lord is present as is the gift of salvation. May this Holy Week be a time of renewal and grace for each of us.
Holy Week begins with the liturgy of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord which has two distinct parts. First, the blessing of palms to recall the triumphant entry of the Lord into the Holy City, Jerusalem. We pay joyful homage to Christ as did the crowd that greeted him with shouts of praise and hosanna. Second, with an opposite emotion, the passion of the Lord is proclaimed and the joyous shouts change to the vicious shouts of crucify Him.
On Palm Sunday the Church places before us the Cross of the Lord. The sign of our faith which identifies us as followers of the Crucified Lord. The Cross informs our understanding of suffering and death. He suffered and died for us. Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading on Palm Sunday, that Christ emptied Himself and because of this God has exalted Him. His Death on the Cross and his triumph over death are the mysteries before us each day of Holy Week.
The three days or the Paschal Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the most important celebrations of the church year. While they are three ceremonies on three days, they are one liturgy which make present the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and its saving effects for our lives. This is the Mystery of Faith.
The Paschal Triduum begins on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at which is recalled the actions of the Lord with his Disciples at their Passover meal, the Last Supper. He gave them an example of how they must live when he took the role of house servant and washed the feet of his closest associates. He says, “Do what I have done for you.” The washing of the disciples’ feet is a visual homily about Christian love. Jesus teaches by example the new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.“
At the Last Supper the Lord gave them the gift of Himself, His Body and Blood, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. “Take and eat. Take and drink.” Christ is the true and eternal priest who instituted the Holy Eucharist in remembrance of Him. He is both priest and victim. As His followers we gather at the table of the Lord and receive Holy Communion in which He is truly and really present.
Good Friday follows. It is the Passion of the Lord, His Suffering and Death on the Cross, before which we are speechless. The prostration of the priest on the floor of the sanctuary at the beginning of this liturgy is an act of humility to honor the humiliation of the Son of God on the Cross. The Passion of the Lord is proclaimed; the Cross is venerated. “Come, let us worship” is the response of the community to the unveiling of the Cross. Yes. We adore Christ and we praise Him. By His Holy Cross he has redeemed the world. The Father’s will has been done on the Cross. Good Friday concludes with the reception of Holy Communion.
The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday follows. It takes place in the dark. The paschal fire illumines the darkness. This is the night of our passover from death to life in Christ in whom we are baptized. Water is blessed and sprinkled to remind us that we are washed clean of sin in Christ. We remember that He lives. He is risen. He died and rose. Through the living waters of Baptism we are in Him and He is in us.
The new day dawns. The Lord’s day. The day the Lord has made. The Sunday of the Resurrection. Easter. The first day of 50 days of continuous celebration that Christ lives. He is risen. We are risen in Him.
May Holy Week 2021 draw us closer to Christ who for our sakes died on the Cross and was raised to life on the third day.
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D.
Bishop of Camden
Bishop Dennis Sullivan will celebrate the annual Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30 at Saint Agnes Church, Our Lady of Hope Parish, Blackwood at noon. During the Chrism Mass, the bishop blesses oils for sacramental use throughout the diocese.
Join Bishop Sullivan at Saint Agnes Church, Our Lady of Hope Parish, Blackwood.
Participation in the Mass is limited with current regulations regarding church capacity and social distancing. It will be broadcast for all to view via livestream.
Holy Thursday - April 1 | 7 PM
This Mass commemorates the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the evening marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter celebrations).
Unlike most years, the traditional washing of the feet will not take place.
Join Bishop Dennis Sullivan on Thursday, April 1 at 7 PM as he celebrates the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Saint Simon Stock Parish, 178 W. White Horse Pike, Berlin.
Easter Vigil - April 3 | 7:30 PM
At this Mass, (Bilingual English & Spanish), adult catechumens (those preparing for Baptism) receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) during the liturgy.
Join Bishop Dennis Sullivan on Holy Saturday, April 3 at 7:30 PM as he celebrates the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.
Easter Sunday - April 4 | 10:00 AM
Easter, the greatest and oldest Christian feast, commemorates the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. The observance of this mystery extends through the Easter season, which lasts until the Feast of Pentecost, a period of 50 days.
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