March 23, 2024 Bulletin

Holy Week. For almost 40 days we’ve been striving to grow in charity and holiness through Christ’s grace and our Lenten penances and resolutions. Most of us have met with mixed results. But we have one more week: let’s resolve to make it a truly “holy” week centered on Christ and His ineffable love.

To do this I propose we follow the ancient practice of allowing each day to be permeated with the Passion of Christ. That is, to constantly be aware and thoughtful of what He was thinking, doing, saying and suffering in those last days and hours, and how He endured all this because of our sins and out of love for us. 

The Church gives us multiple gifts to help us do this, in particular the unique liturgies of Holy Week. We begin today, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, as we have the blessing of the Palms and the Solemn entry into the church, reminding us of the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We combine this with the reading of the Passion from Luke’s Gospel, using the form of a narrative and dialogue; is there any more painful moment for each of us than when we cry out together “Crucify him”?

  Each day of Holy Week then proceeds with many opportunities for going to Mass and confession, as well as visiting churches to adore our Eucharistic Lord, to meditate on the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, or, especially, to pray the Stations of the Cross. 

On Holy Thursday things become even more focused and intense. No Masses are said during the day anywhere in the world, except the Chrism Mass offered at the Cathedrals of most Dioceses (although ours has been moved to Tuesday of this week). In the evening, Mass is finally said in the parishes, as Lent officially ends and the Triduum (“three days”) begins with The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorating the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Priesthood (Holy Orders). Here we find ourselves in the upper room at the Passover meal with Christ and the first priests, His apostles. As Mass ends, just as the Lord led the apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, the priest leads a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose (in the Parish Hall) where all are invited to remain with our Eucharistic Lord as late as midnight, remembering Jesus’ words: “remain here, and watch with me…watch and pray.” 

The next day is Good Friday, in a certain way the holiest day of the year. The whole Church throughout the world observes a day of fasting and abstinence (see the rules below), to physically participate in a small way in the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord. The day should be marked by quiet reflection, and charity, even as we go about our necessary regular duties —even at work— especially from noon to three. 

No Masses are offered on Good Friday, anywhere in the world. Instead we gather in the church at 3:00 in the afternoon, the hour of our Lord’s death, for the solemn Celebration of the Passion of the Lord (a powerful liturgy; don’t miss it, even if it means leaving work early!). We begin as the priest silently enters the bare sanctuary (all decoration is removed and the tabernacle is empty) and prostrates himself before the altar, and all join him by kneeling. We then read the Passion in narrative/dialogue form, from the Gospel of John. After the readings, the priest prays ten ritual intercessions, calling down our Lord’s mercy on the Church and the world. 

Then a large crucifix is brought to the sanctuary, and the people come forward to personally venerate the Cross, by a genuflection or some other gesture. While this ritual veneration can take some time to complete, the beautiful strains of our choir and the solemn atmosphere of the church help us to place ourselves for a few minutes next to the Blessed Mother, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene who waited for three hours at the foot of the Cross. After veneration, the priests bring the Blessed Sacrament from the sacristy and the faithful receive Holy Communion. Afterwards the Cross is left in the sanctuary for those who wish to venerate it later in the day. Stations of the Cross are prayed at 7:00pm. 

On Holy Saturday, the Church continues its somber reflective mood. This day is not a day of celebration; in fact, the Church encourages us to voluntarily fast and abstain from meat as we do on Good Friday. 

Mass is never offered during the day on Holy Saturday, but at 8:0pm, after the Sun is completely set and the sky is totally dark except for the stars, Saturday officially ends and the celebration of Easter Sunday begins with the Easter Vigil Mass. We begin with the blessing of the Easter Fire and the Easter Candle outside the doors of the Church. The Easter Candle is brought into the darkened church, representing the Risen Christ, the Light of the world; and as the Easter Proclamation (the Exsultet) is chanted the lights of the Church come on. This is followed by four readings from the Old Testament, four Psalms, a magnificent sung Gloria, an Epistle, and the Gospel account of the Resurrection. After the homily new Catholics (from RCIA) are baptized, or received into the Church, and confirmed. The members of the congregation also renew their baptismal vows. It is a glorious Mass, and I encourage all to attend. (However, lasting two hours, it can be tough for little ones). 

I beg you, do not miss this opportunity to have a truly Holy Week, especially by participating in these Holy Liturgies. 

9am Mass Survey.
Many have been asking me about the survey I sent around a few weeks ago. 

We received 260 responses, 118 of which came from folks who attend 9am “Most Sundays” or “Frequently.” This is an excellent response rate, since roughly 120 families attend the 9am regularly. 

Focusing on those 118, to the question: “Would you support the use of more Latin in the 9am Sunday Mass?” 64% responded “yes,” and 9% had “no preference” (total: 73%). Most of the remaining questions followed along the same lines. 

For those who participated in the survey but aren’t in that 118, I did consider your responses too. And I was pleasantly surprised to see your combined “yes”/”no preference” was still 56%. 

Considering all this, Fr. Bergida’s input, and my own prayer and discernment, I have decided that sometime during the Easter Season we will add Latin at the 9am for all the prayers and responses after the “Our Father” until the end of Mass, except for the “Prayer after Communion” (this is the prayer right before the Final Blessing). Practically speaking, you will only have to learn 2 new responses in Latin: 1) “For the kingdom, the power …,” and 2) “Lord, I am not worthy….” The Latin versions are pretty easy to learn, and we will prepare a short tutorial video to help you. And the English/Latin cards in the pews will be updated. 

I promise to write more explanation about all this in the coming weeks. Thanks for your input and cooperation.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles