HOLY WEEK AT ST. JOHN'S
The Triduum, essentially one continuous service spread over three days, beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday and ending with the Great Vigil on Holy Saturday, makes real the power of the liturgy as a gateway to the transcendent, offering each of us the possibility of an encounter with the divine.
Each day, the liturgies led us progressively through the events of our Lord’s journey toward the Cross: through his suffering, to his death and, finally, to the miracle of his glorious resurrection. In the course of this journey, one’s faith can acquire a spiritual dimension unknown and unfelt before. As a community of faith, the living Body of Christ, we made this holy pilgrimage into the mystery of the dying and rising of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many who have worshipped with us during Holy Week have written and told me that they have been overwhelmed by the emotional and spiritual impact of the services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
On the Friday before Palm Sunday, we walked the Stations of the Cross together: the traditional fourteen “stations” marking Christ’s journey down the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha, carrying the cross beam of the cross on which he will soon be crucified. Simple crosses embellished with a small seal depicting each station were installed on the side walls of the Nave. The “stations” will remain during the first few weeks of Eastertide so that people may walk the stations on their own whenever they wish. A service bulletin with devotions for each station is available in the Church next to the votive candle stand.
On Palm Sunday, our liturgy traced an abrupt shift in the Church’s mood: with our plans waving and joyful choruses of “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” filling the crisp morning air opening procession around the Church evoked the memory of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week…acclaimed by the people of their Messiah; our silent departure at the end of the service, leaving the Church literally draped in sorrow at the terrible events about to unfold.
On Maundy Thursday (which takes its name from the Latin word “Mandatum” for command, referring to the Great Command that we have been given by our Lord: to love one another as we are loved by him), we re-enacted Jesus’ Washing of his disciples feet. We stripped the Altar leaving it bare and plunged the Church into darkness as we left.
After the service, we reassembled along with friends from the Jewish community in the Parish Hall for an Agape/Seder Meal to commemorate the other meals associated with this night: the Passover meal that Israel ate before fleeing Egypt; the gatherings of the earliest Christian churches for Seder; and Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the night he was arrested… and we fortified ourselves for the watch through the night at the Altar of Repose in the Lady Chapel…transformed by palms and a profusion of lilies to be a reminder of the Garden of Gethsemane where our Lord went with his disciples to pray before he was betrayed.
On Good Friday at noon, we gather for an adopted Tenebrea (Latin for “shadows” or “darkness”), a service marked by the gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms were chanted or recited, ending in a loud sound symbolizing the earthquake that occurred at the moment of Christ’s death.
In the evening, we celebrate the Good Friday Liturgy including the Veneration of the Cross and the Mass of the Pre-sanctified.
At the Great Vigil on Holy Saturday eeening (dating from the 2nd century, the most ancient and most important liturgy of the entire church year), we lit the new fire, spread its light throughout the congregation and reminded one another who we are: recalling the stories marking our long journey through history as the children of God, the culminating in the glorious proclamation: “Christ is Risen” and celebration of the First Mass of Easter…. Our worship at the Great Vigil was lifted to new heights by the glorious voices of our choir heralded by the brilliant sound of trumpets.
And, finally, on Easter Sunday morning, many came to celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection. Our Children’s Chorus once again provided an invitation to worship and a choral prelude with their now famous stirring rendition of Lord of the Dance, encouraged, no doubt, by the promise of the Egg Hunt following the service, and for the adults, a bountiful and beautiful Easter Brunch.
PHOTOS OF HOLY WEEK