Holy Week is most definitely a very sacred time of the year, for that is when we will commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus' life on this earth.
These are the days leading up to the great Easter Feast. The Lenten season of sacrifice and self-denial is about to come to an end, but this Holy Week is extremely important for all Christians.
The greatest focus of the week is the Passion (suffering) and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events that led up to it.
Historical documents tell us that as early as the fourth century the Church celebrated this "Great Week" with a feeling of profound sanctity.
It begins with Palm Sunday, which marks Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The central feature of the service proper to this day, as it was in the earliest times, is the procession of palms. The palms are blessed and are then borne in procession to the church, where an entry is made with a certain amount of ceremony, after which the Mass is celebrated. The other notable and very ancient feature of the present Palm Sunday service is the reading of the Gospel of the Passion by three (or more) readers.
Especially important is the Easter Triduum. This is the three days just before Easter.
On Holy Thursday, we re-enact the Lord's Last Supper, which He shared with His apostles on the night He was betrayed and arrested. This is one of the most beautiful liturgies of the entire liturgical year. At the Mass, the priest will wash the feet of twelve people, just as Jesus did. Also in this week, priests all over the world will renew their sacred vows. This is because, at the Last Supper, Jesus not only instituted the Mass (Eucharist) but also the ministerial priesthood.
On Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion and death of our Lord, we have the veneration of the Cross. A service is held at three o'clock in the afternoon (the hour He is believed to have died). We go forward and kiss the cross in order to show honour and respect for Christ's sacrifice for our sake. There is no consecration of the Eucharist on this day, and the Communion we receive will be from the night before, which has been reserved in the tabernacle.
Holy Saturday is a vigil. We keep watch for the expectant rising of Our Saviour. This was the day He went down into the netherworld in order to bring back up with Him into heaven those who had died before His coming. Up to this time, the gates to heaven were closed and no one could go there because of the original sin of Adam. Jesus changed all that. By paying the price for our sins on the Cross, He gained for us our eternal salvation, and heaven was opened once more. Also on this night, persons who have spent months of preparation will be received through Baptism and Confirmation into the Church for the first time. It is a joyous occasion.
Those who engage themselves wholeheartedly in living the entire paschal cycle (Lent, Triduum and Easter's fifty days) discover that it can change them forever. This is especially so of the Triduum which, standing at the heart of the Easter season, is an intense immersion in the fundamental mystery of what it is to be Christian.
During these days, we suffer with Christ so that we might rise with Him at His glorious Resurrection. Holy Week is a time to clear our schedules of unnecessary activities. Our minds and hearts should be fixed on Jesus and what He did for us. Let us bear the Cross so that may be worthy of wearing the crown He wore.
Please Please Please, don’t let the secularism of our age capture you! Keep Holy Week Holy, and Holy Saturday Holy too!
But then comes Easter. Most people see Easter as nothing more than a holiday, a chance to enjoy Easter eggs. Well, it is hard to grasp isn’t it. We Christians believe a man rose from the dead, and thereby changed the world.
For many people, the idea of the Resurrection of Jesus is pure foolishness. Well, St Paul had a lot to say about that: 1 Corinthians 1, v18ff:
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
So dear friends in Christ, be foolish, enjoy Easter