We have now entered Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. On Monday, the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Portland will gather for the annual Chrism Mass at 7 PM at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. There we will renew our promises that we made on the day of ordination. Also, the Archbishop will bless the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism) which will be brought back to the parishes.
We then get ready for the Triduum (pronounced, “trid-oo-oom” which encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Both Holy Thursday and Good Friday services begin at 7 PM. The Easter Vigil will begin at 8:30 PM.
On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the Lord’s Supper. At this Mass, the Gloria is sung for the first time in since just before Ash Wednesday. During that Gloria, an Altar Server will wring the hand bells all throughout. In past years, the bells actually came loose and fell off, leaving the server a bit confused. We’ve since then glue them in place with Loctite! After the homily, the symbolic “washing of the feet” takes place. Pre-selected representative members of the church will come forward to have their feet washed by the priest. Then Mass continues. A collection is taken up and then brought forward, along with the Holy Oils that were blessed at the Chrism Mass. The Mass ends with a procession of the Eucharist to an altar of repose where the faithful are encouraged to remain in a vigil of adoration.
On Good Friday, we will host an Ecumenical Stations of the Cross including members of several churches in the Grants Pass area. This will take place at Noon.
Later in the evening (7 PM) of Good Friday, the liturgy of the Triduum continues with the priest, deacon, and servers entering the church silently. The priest then prostrates himself upon reaching the front of the sanctuary. All are encouraged to kneel. After the prostration is concluded, the Liturgy of the Word commences, climaxing with a dramatic reading of the Gospel’s Passion Narrative. Following is the Solemn Intercessions which are explicit prescribed so that all Catholic Churches are praying the same thing that day. A collection for the Holy Land is taken up. Then the Rite of the Adoration of the Holy Cross takes place. A single cross is brought into the church so that the faithful may come forward to venerate the cross. Families and groups are encouraged to come forward together to offer their veneration. This is not a Mass, but Holy Communion that was consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the faithful. Afterwards, the Altar is cleared and the priest, deacon, and servers depart in silence.
On Holy Saturday, the community will gather around a fire in the courtyard of the church. From this fire, the Paschal Candle will be blessed and lit. A procession will form into the church, lead by the deacon carrying the Paschal Candle. The Exultet will be chanted followed by an extensive series of Scriptures proclaimed. After the last Old Testament reading, hand bells are run all during the singing of the Gloria. Let’s pray that the bells can hold on through it all! After the Liturgy of the Word, those who are to be baptized will process to the baptismal font. There, the baptismal font will be blessed and our Elect will be baptized. After the newly baptized have changed into dry clothes, they will join the Candidates to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Liturgy of the Eucharist will take place where our new Catholics will receive their First Holy Communion.
I hope that you will make an effort to participate in these amazing celebrations of Christ Paschal Mystery. They carry the power to deepen our faith and fill us with joy as we walk along the path with Jesus from his passion to his resurrection.
Fr. William Holtzinger