Holy Week to Easter
Holy Week in the Christian Calendar is the week immediately before Easter. As early as the latter half of the 3rd century and early 4th century, we hear of the custom of marking this week as a whole with special observances. Wherever this finds you during this Spring Break, we hope that the events of this week and the services of worship in our community will bring you closer to the love of Christ poured out on the cross and triumphant rising from the grave.
Palm Sunday, April 9 (Services 8 & 10:15 AM)
The Sunday before Easter at which Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and Jesus' Passion on the cross are recalled. It is also known as the Sunday of the Passion. Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week. The observance of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem was witnessed by the pilgrim Egeria in about 381-384. During this observance there was a procession of people down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. The people waved branches of palms or olive trees as they walked. They sang psalms, including Ps 118, and shouted the antiphon, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" The Palm Sunday observance was generally accepted throughout the church by the twelfth century.
Holy Tuesday, April 11
Renewal of Ordination Vows and Blessing of Holy Oils at Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford
Holy Wednesday, April 12 (Service at 7 PM)
In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as 'Spy Wednesday', indicating that this is the day Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. This event is described in three Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6. A service called Tenebrae is offered on this night at 7 PM. Tenebrae (plural of the Latin word for ‘darkness’) is a liturgy of increasing darkness and lengthening shadows in preparation for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The Easter Triduum
Since the early centuries of Christianity, the word triduum, meaning a period of three days, has been used to describe the period which begins with the Last Supper and the arrest of Jesus and ends on Easter morning with the proclamation of the resurrection. The Church's liturgies over these three days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil) belong to this season alone, and are wonderfully rich in symbolic drama, as we seek to participate in the mysteries of Jesus' passion and death.
Maundy Thursday, April 13 (Service at 6 PM)
On that first Holy Thursday, the disciples fell asleep. Can we not watch with him? The word Maundy is derived (through Middle English and Old French mandé) from the Latin mandatum, the first word
of the of the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13.34) by which Jesus explained to the disciples the significance of his washing their feet: "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved
This day also commemorates the Last Supper of Christ. The celebration of this Eucharist marks the beginning of the Sacred Paschal Triduum that concludes with the Easter Vigil. Many churches offer a vigil following the service at what is called an Altar of Repose, where the Blessed Sacrament (the bread which was consecrated at the Eucharist) is reserved throughout the night. Keeping watch before the Sacrament in the darkness of this night can be a very powerful experience.
Good Friday, April 14 (Service at 7 PM)
Good Friday is the only day of the year on which (in many churches) we receive the body of Christ not in the context of a Eucharist which we are celebrating, but through the Blessed Sacrament which has been kept ("reserved") on the Altar of Repose throughout the night. Once we have received Communion and consumed that which remains, the church becomes empty of the sacramental presence of Christ until the Eucharist is celebrated again at the Easter Vigil service.
Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday (not the same as the American ‘Black Friday’ for shopping in November...), commemorates the Cruci1ixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Golgotha. For the liturgy of Good Friday which often takes place in the afternoon or evening of this day, the Church is bare and empty. The ministers enter in silence and kneel before the altar, something we do only at this point in the year, to mark as dramatically as possible the enormity of the death of Christ our God.
Way of the Cross (Stations of the Cross) - 12 noon for Children
A devotion to the Passion of Christ which recalls a series of events at the end of Jesus' life from his condemnation to his burial. The Way of the Cross imitates the practice of visiting the places of Jesus' Passion in the Holy Land by early Christian pilgrims. The first stations outside Palestine were built in Bologna in the fifth century. This devotion was encouraged by the Franciscans, and it became common in the fifteenth century. The number of stations for prayer and meditation in the Way of the Cross has varied, but it typically includes fourteen stations. Each station may have a cross and an artistic representation of the scene. The stations may be erected inside a church or outdoors. The BOS includes the following stations in the Way of the Cross: 1) Jesus is condemned to death; 2) Jesus takes up his cross; 3) Jesus falls the first time; 4) Jesus meets his afflicted mother; 5) the cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene; 6) a woman wipes the face of Jesus; 7) Jesus falls a second time; 8) Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem; 9) Jesus falls a third time; 10) Jesus is stripped of his garments; 11) Jesus is nailed to the cross; 12) Jesus dies on the cross; 13) the body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother; 14) Jesus is laid in the tomb. The BOS notes that eight of the stations are based on events that are recorded in the gospels. The remaining six (stations 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13) are based on inferences from the gospels or pious legends.
Holy Saturday, April 15 (Vigil Service at 7 PM)
Holy Saturday, Sabbatum Sanctum in Latin, is the last day of Holy Week. The evening of Holy Saturday begins the third and final day of the Triduum. In the Western Church, the Eucharist is not celebrated on Holy Saturday and the day is a liturgically sparse time of reflection upon Christ's
death and burial in anticipation of the Great Vigil of Easter. On this day, the Church waits at the Lord's tomb. In many churches, on either the evening of Holy Saturday or early in the morning on Easter Day, the Great Vigil of Easter is celebrated. To keep vigil is to watch, and in this service we watch in prayer as Christ passes over from death to life. We begin in darkness. The church represents
the tomb, the kingdom of death, which, since Good Friday, has held sway in the world.
The Easter Vigil is the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is
during this service that people are baptized. In the Anglican Church, the Easter Vigil is the most important service of the liturgical year as well as the first celebration of the Eucharist during the fifty-day long celebration of Easter.
Easter Sunday, April 16 (Services at 8 & 10:15 AM)
Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!