A Field Guide for Holy Week and Easter Week in Tazewell Parish

The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the fountain of Catholic Faith. This cataclysmic event is intimately tied into the Sacraments, so we must see Easter (which along with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday is called the Sacred Triduum of three Holy Days) as the anchor of our identity as Christians. These events, along with Palm Sunday beforehand, and Pentecost and Ascension afterward, form what we call the Paschal Mystery, the name for God’s plan for our salvation through the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. The Paschal Mystery is really the heart of all Liturgy, and the entire liturgical year grows out of it. It is a passage through death to authentic life. This is why each Mass throughout the year is called a “little Easter.”

To the degree we are physically able, it is important that all participate in these liturgies—not as an exterior ritual but as immersion into the Eternal Truth of Christ so that we may be what we receive and show forth what we experience. Clear your calendar as much as possible during Holy Week and plan to attend Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and either the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday. Attending any additional weekday services enriches our prayer life all the more.

PALM SUNDAY
10 am at Saint Paul’s Church

Holy Week begins. Christ enters Jerusalem in a joyous parade. We meet at the Baptismal Font and make our way from it bearing blessed palms. In the procession we are to see much more than an imitating reminder; we are to see the ascent of God’s people, and our own ascent, with Jesus to the sacrifice—immersing ourselves in the truth that Christ can be hailed King and in the next moment turned against and utterly abandoned. After arrival in “Jerusalem” (the church’s nave), we meditate on Passion Gospel narrative and participate directly in the meaning of the event. The service culminates in the Eucharist, being strengthened for the journey ahead by, and with, Jesus Himself. It is Christ’s journey, together with his people, to Calvary and the great central act of redemption. The Palm Sunday liturgy gives us a complete and rounded theological vision of the mystery of Christ. It tells us that this mystery is not a mystery of death alone but a mystery of life that triumphs over death. This vision is important for a proper conception of the spiritual life.

MON., TUES., and WED. IN HOLY WEEK
9 am at All Souls’ Chapel

On these three weekdays, Masses are celebrated in All Souls’ Chapel. Enlightened by inspired Old Testament and New Testament lessons, we follow Jesus as He teaches spiritually through His words and actions to give us insight about the offering He will make as well as what it means to follow Him as disciples. These days maintain a continuity of prayer during Holy Week.

THE SACRED TRIDUUM: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter

These three days form one great mystery (the Paschal Mystery of our salvation), and theologically one service—there is no dismissal from the start of the Maundy Thursday liturgy through the end of the Great Vigil of Easter or Easter Sunday; we simply take breaks for rest and sleep.

MAUNDY THURSDAY
7 pm at All Saints’ Church

This service is a powerful mix of joy and sorrow, light and darkness. After beginning in silence, we move our focus to the Institution of the Last Supper by Jesus Christ in the Cenacle (the “Upper Room”). During the celebration of the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament reserved for Good Friday communion is taken to the Altar of Repose for Adoration and Watching (described below). The Altar is then stripped while Psalm 22 is chanted. This recalls and actualizes for our real participation in the betrayal, arrest, and utter humiliation of Jesus. The lights are lowered and we depart in silence and reverence. We begin to accompany Jesus into profound holiness.

WATCH AT THE ALTAR OF REPOSE until Midnight

Within the Maundy Thursday Mass, the Watch begins: first together as the Altar is stripped, and then with parishioners taking one hour shifts to pray with Jesus as He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are invited each of us to light a candle and put it in the sand, and then sit and pray in recollection of His Passion, and His words to his disciples who fell asleep: “Could you not watch with me for one hour?” The Altar of Repose is an experience of silence, presence, and commitment. This is a particularly holy and blessed opportunity to stretch ourselves spiritually and physically for the sake of Lord and Savior, who died for our sins. Sign-up for the Watch in the narthex at Saint Paul’s and in the Undercroft at All Saints’.

AGAPE MEAL

Simultaneous to the Altar of Repose is the Agape Meal, or “Love Feast” in the undercroft of All Saints’. It features foods mostly typical of first-century Jerusalem, such as might have been part of the Passover meal the disciples shared with Jesus during the Last Supper. It is festive fellowship.

GOOD FRIDAY
6 pm at Saint Paul’s Church

In silence the liturgy resumes as we gather and kneel in humility and sorrow before God who loved us so much as to allow his Son to take on our enemies—Sin and Death—in combat, and to overcome them in glory. The Passion Gospel according to St. John is read. Following this, we pray the Solemn Collects as a priestly people before God, interceding on behalf of the world with our God who has redeemed the world and showing forth the true power and significance of what Christ has done on the Cross and continues to do through His Body, the Church. Then a Cross is brought before the people and venerated by all those desiring to do so. The moment slows and is often deeply personal—yet also profoundly communal. Finally, the Reserved Sacrament is brought from the Tabernacle and Holy Communion shared as a sign of Christ’s working and presence—even in death—for us, and as an affirmation that this is indeed “Good” Friday, where Life has the final word. We depart again in silence. This is the most unique liturgy of the year.

HOLY SATURDAY
9 am at All Souls’ Chapel

This simple service begins in extended silence. Readings from Sacred Scripture help us meditate on Christ’s burial, along with a prayer chanted from the Burial Liturgy. Peace and contemplation pervade this liturgy, which aims to emulate Blessed Mary’s strong abiding till the Resurrection.

EASTER EVE: THE GREAT VIGIL OF EASTER
beginning at 7:10 pm

Easter is the most joyful and blessed moment of the Church Year; it opens the Royal Doors to the central reality of the Christian Faith: that Christ is risen, and that through baptism incorporation into Him we now share his life and walk in glory, all of creation transformed.

We begin Easter Eve by gathering in the All Souls’ Memorial Garden behind the Education Building. There, hymns are sung around flames in a firepit. After the fire is blessed, then in holiness the Paschal Candle is lit. The Priest, bearing the Paschal Candle, leads the procession as the light is distributed to each person. Arriving in the dimly lit Chapel, the Priest intones the holy hymn, The Exsultet, which rejoices in the Resurrection of Jesus. Then follows the three Old Testament narratives of our Baptism into Christ’s Resurrection—the Flood, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, and Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea—each followed by a chanted Psalm and a short sermon. Then with Light restored the First Mass of Easter celebrates the Eucharist along with a Renewal of Baptismal Vows. After the service (at about 9 pm), there is a reception with champagne, cheeseboard, and desserts in the reception room across the hall from the Chapel.

EASTER DAY—THE FIRST SUNDAY OF EASTER
9 am at All Saints’ and 11 am at Saint Paul’s

The Easter Day Mass meditates on the story of St Mary Magdalene and other women at the tomb, who find the stone miraculously rolled back and an angel proclaiming He is risen. Beloved Easter hymns and beautiful flowers combine to bring our Holy Week celebration to a radiant conclusion. Easter Day has come—but Eastertide has just begun. The Great Fifty Days of Easter (lasting until Pentecost and including the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ) are to be savored, enjoyed, grappled with, and lived in this season, forever in our hearts, and proclaimed in our words and deeds throughout our lives—the basis of our identity, community, and mission.

MONDAY through SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK
9 am at All Souls’ Chapel

These six weekday Masses recount the initial, crucial events in the life of the early Church as described in the Acts of the Apostles and the four Gospels. We are invited to continue to meditate on the Paschal Mystery through accounts of the first Christians’ own grappling with the enormity of God’s revelation and providence. In seeing how He became central to their lives, we are invited to allow Christ deeper into ours through the grace of these quiet, contemplative Masses.