Some very special and holy days will soon be upon us. Here’s a short summary of these amazing days.
To start off these events, the Church will celebrate, here in the Archdiocese of Portland, the Chrism Mass. This Mass will assemble nearly all of the priests serving our archdiocese at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, the mother church, the place where the “cathedra,” the chair of the bishop is located, the sign of the authority of Archbishop Sample. At that Mass we priests will renew our promises and join with the archbishop in prayer for the blessing of the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens, and the Oil of Chrism). From that Mass we will return to our respective parishes where these oils will be presented before the community on Holy Thursday.
This coming weekend, we celebrate of The Passion of the Lord, also known as Palm Sunday. In this Mass, we begin, in earnest, “Holy Week.” We will be given blessed palms which will be used as signs of remembrance of the the triumphant entry of Christ to Jerusalem. We will listen attentively to the Gospel’s account of the Passion of our Lord in a interactive way, as is our custom. I recommend everyone to wear read that day.
Later in that week, on Thursday the 29th, we begin the Triduum, the three holy days that start with Holy Thursday. At that Mass, we hear about the Last Supper and how Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles. After the homily, the priest will wash the feet of people from our community who represent our different ministries. The Eucharist will be received as per usual at Mass, but the conclusion of the Mass will differ. Instead of just ending the Mass, we will offer a period of time (until 10 PM) for people to stay and be present to Christ in the Eucharist on the altar.
On Good Friday, March 30th, all are invited to go to the First Christian Church (305 SW H St.) for an ecumenical Good Friday Service. I have been asked to preach. Later in the evening (7 PM), St. Anne will offer our Good Friday Service where the presider will enter in silence and prostrate himself at the altar. Then we will listen to an extended and interactive narrative of the Passion of the Lord. There will be special intercessions followed by the popular Veneration of the Cross. Lastly, Holy Communion will be offered, and all will leave in a solemn silence.
Easter Saturday and Sunday
On Saturday evening, all are invited for the pinnacle of the Church’s celebrations: The Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday. This Mass will begin outside with the lighting of the Easter Fire, blessing of the new Paschal Candle, and procession into our gathering space (this year our Parish Center). The deacon will proclaim the “Exsultet.” Then the community feasts on a large portion of the Scriptures reflecting on the history of salvation. After this, the Elect come forward to be baptized. Then they join the Candidates to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. This celebration culminates in the reception of their First Holy Communion. The next day, on Sunday, St. Anne will hold all the Easter Masses in the Gym across the street at Lincoln Elementary School. The celebration of Christ’s glorious Resurrection is the reason for our hope. It is the goal for which we long. It is the reason for the season and the days that follow.
I hope that you will be able to find time to be part of every moment of these holiest of days ahead.
Fr. William Holtzinger