Now that we are well into Lent, internally for St. Anne’s, planning for Holy Week has already begun. Personally, I believe that Holy Week is that series of celebrations that every Catholic should experience each year. If you’ve never attended them, please consider making an effort this time around. Here’s a run down of all the activities.
Palm Sunday: Depending on the Mass, we will be start- ing in the Hall or outside and then process in with our palms to continue our celebration.
Chrism Mass (7 PM, March 29, Portland): This Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral with the Archbishop and almost all the priests serving in the Archdiocese. This is a wonderful time to experience the Church in a larger sense. The Holy Oils are blessed at the Mass and the priests renew their promises from their ordinations. The procession alone is something to behold.
Holy Thursday (7 PM): This commemorates the
Last Supper Christ had with his disciples. At this Mass we wash the feet of representative members of our parish and focus on the institution of the Eucharist. As such, I’ve ordered special hosts that have images embossed on them and I will be singing most of the Eucharistic Prayer. The oils from the Chrism Mass are pre- sented at the presentation of the gifts and placed in a suitable location. At the end of Mass, the community follows the priest in procession with the Eucharist to the Parish Center where a temporary Altar of Repose has been set up so that the faithful can pray before the Blessed Sacrament. People are welcome to leave when they want until adoration concludes at midnight.
Good Friday (7 PM): This celebration is very simple. It is not a Mass. It begins very solemnly. In addition,
the reading of the Passion narrative is proclaimed. Afterwards, the community comes forward to venerate the cross. Finally communion is distributed, and the service ends.
Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil—8:30 PM): This is the pinnacle of all our celebrations of the entire year. We begin outside with a blessing of a fire (we have a special fire for this year) and the blessing of the Paschal Candle. From there, the community processes in the dark- ened church with their own candles, lighting the church with their very presence. A solemn proclamation is sung called the Exultet. An extended series of readings are proclaimed describing salvation history. Then after a very short homily (and I mean short!), those who are to be baptized come forward. This year we will be offering the most dramatic form of baptism that we can: immersion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church(#1239) considers this to be the “most expressive way” to offer this Sacrament. If you’ve never seen this done, you don’t want to miss it! Next, those who have already been baptized in another faith tradition, pledge their faith in the Church. These people along with all those who have just been baptized receive the sacrament of Con- firmation. The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows with those who were just received into the Church going first. The whole night is full of wonder and joy.
I hope to see you at these celebrations. I am greatly looking forward to them. As with all our most important holy days, I will be doing my best to celebrate them bilingually as a sign and invitation to the major languages present in our community. I pray that your Lenten journey has been full of growth and conversion as well as peace and hope.
Fr. William Holtzinger