Holy Week

All About Holy Week

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week is the final week of Lent. It begins on Palm Sunday and leads up to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. There are many important Masses or services for Catholics during this week, including the Chrism Mass, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and Good Friday services.

When is Holy Week 2022?

This year, Holy Week begins on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is celebrated the week before Easter. Catholics carry blessed palm branches into church with them - this is in remembrance of when Jesus entered Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11). The story of Jesus’ death and his Passion, are read as the Gospel.

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What is the Chrism Mass?

Many dioceses celebrate the Chrism Mass on the morning of Holy Thursday or possibly on another day during Holy Week. “Chrism” refers to one of the oils used during different Sacraments. During the Chrism Mass, the Oil of the Sick (used during the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick), the Oil of Catechumens (used during the Sacrament of Baptism), and the Chrism oil are consecrated by the Bishop. Large vessels of oils are carried to the altar for the blessings and consecration of Chrism, which is a mixture of oil and balsam. After Mass, the oils are distributed to representatives of each parish. The oils are taken back to the parishes and used for the Sacraments. 

There is also a renewal of priestly promises during the Chrism Mass. Traditionally every priest within a diocese attends this Mass. The Bishop also requests that the laity of the diocese pray for him and the priests of the diocese.

What is Holy Thursday? 

Holy Thursday is the first day of the Easter Triduum, the most sacred days of the Catholic faith. It begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his disciples on the Jewish holiday of Passover. It’s not a Holy Day of Obligation, but many Catholics attend Mass. During this Mass, the priest washes the feet of some members of the parish in memory of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. It was during the Last Supper that Jesus taught his disciples that the Eucharist is truly His Body and Blood. Jesus’ disciples were the first Catholic priests. So during the Last Supper, he taught them the importance of the Eucharist, and why priests celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice during every Mass. Because of this, the Last Supper is also significant because it was the beginning of the priesthood.

Why is it called Good Friday?

Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus died and saved us from our sins. His death and resurrection on Easter is the most important event, which is why it’s called “good”. On this day Catholics fast and remember the suffering of Jesus when he died on the cross. It’s the only day of the year in which Catholic Mass is not celebrated. Instead, many Catholic Churches have a Stations of the Cross prayer service, as well as a Veneration of the Cross service. It’s traditionally a day of solemn prayer.

What is the Easter Vigil?

The Easter Vigil is the Mass celebrated on Holy Saturday and it begins the Easter celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection. It begins with a bonfire outside of the church, and Mass attendees light candles that slowly illuminate the church. Many readings from the Old Testament that foretold Jesus’ death and resurrection are read. It’s also the day that new catechumens, those who are entering the Catholic Church, receive the Sacraments for the first time.

What is Easter Sunday?

Easter Sunday is a continuation of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation because the Mass celebrates the most important teaching in the Catholic faith - that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we could share eternal life with him in heaven.

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