We have begun Holy Week, the week that begins on Palm Sunday and concludes on Easter Vigil. It is the highlight of the entire Church year. On Monday, all the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Portland gather at the Cathedral on Monday at 7 PM for the Chrism Mass. At that Mass, we rededicate ourselves in ministry and the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens, and Oil of Chrism) are blessed and given to us to bring back to our parishes. We return to our parishes and then prepare for the Triduum, the holy three days from Thursday to Saturday.
On Holy Thursday Mass (7 PM), we will celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Historically, twelve people would come forward to have their feet washed as a commemoration of the events of the Last Supper. Pope Francis officially changed that ritual which spoke of selecting "men who have been chosen” to “those chosen from the among the People of God.” This means the ritual includes men, women, children, and any of those representing the variety and unity of the People of God. Pope Francis chose to make these changes “so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus’ gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity”. At the Preparation of the Gifts, we formally receive the Holy Oils at our church. Mass continues with solemnity. The conclusion of the Mass calls for a formal procession with the ciborium with all the consecrated hosts to a place of repose and adoration. We will be processing to the Parish Center.
On Good Friday, there is no Mass, but services commemorating the Lord’s Blessed Passion. At noon, all are invited to an ecumenical gathering of the faithful at Calvary Lutheran Church where various ministers from some of the Christian communities will lead us in worship and commemoration. Later at 7 PM, we will offer our Good Friday Service where we listen to an extended proclamation of the Passion of our Lord, offer a solemn veneration of the Cross, and offer communion from the previous day’s Mass. At this service, the entrance and recessional are done in silence, for it is a sort of an "in-between” service bridging us from Thursday to Saturday.
On Holy Saturday, there are no other activities other than the Easter Vigil which will begin at 8:30 PM at St. Anne. At the Mass, we begin with the blessing of the Easter Fire from which we light our new Paschal Candle. After processing in the church with lighted candles, we listen to an extended portion of the Scriptures giving us an overview of salvation history. Then we move to the rites of initiation where we will baptize (some by immersion) the Elect and receive into full communion those who have been journeying as Candidates. Then all will be confirmed and receive their First Holy Communion. The Mass ends with a reception in the Hall.
I want to strongly urge you all to make every effort to be present to the events of the Triduum. It is by these Mysteries that the gates of Heaven were made open to us by the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ!
Fr. William Holtzinger