Holy Week



The mere phrase stirs up my heart, opening up a conduit to the place in me that lives for this week. The liturgy place.

There is Holy Thursday, when we remember the Lord’s Supper and the washing of the feet.

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The night when the bells ring and the Gloria swells through the church for the first time in weeks. A night that begins with a burst of joy and ends in the solemn ancient chant, “Pange lingua, gloriosi,” as we remove the Eucharist from the sanctuary in preparation for the memorial of the Passion.

There is Good Friday, the only day of the year when Catholics do not celebrate Mass–the night we remember the suffering, the night we connect physically with the cross of Christ.


Christian and I will be leading music that night, almost the whole liturgy sung a cappella, putting outward expression to the day’s fast. Then, drained, we will all go home and sleep.

And on Saturday night—on Saturday at nightfall, Easter arrives.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav’ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!
            (excerpts from the Exsultet)

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It’s a night of glory, of awestruck shivers as we light the Easter fire, as we trace the history of salvation, piece by piece, story by prophecy, from the moment God spoke the world into being, up to the moment when all promises were fulfilled. It’s a long evening, with baptisms and confirmations and a quadruple dose of Scripture. This liturgy I probably won’t get to attend, although it’s my favorite of the whole year. An early “call” on Easter morning, and a baby that’s been waking up 2-3 times a night, force me to put rest ahead of Easter Vigil. For now. But I look forward to the years to come, when we will all be able to share it together.

On Good Friday,  join me for a reflection on the Passion, as told by a 1930s surgeon. It’s hard to bear, but not nearly so hard as the experience that inspired it.

3 thoughts on “Holy Week

  1. My favorite Mass of the year is Holy Thursday. So many years I have missed due to something “baby” related. But I know this time is short. Enjoy the Tridium.

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