Holy Week 2023 is coming!

Holy Week is coming, and with it, special liturgies & traditions most of the week. Though not obligatory, they are opportunities to enter more fully into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. One way to prepare is to learn about the various services. Please enjoy these brief summaries (with linked articles for further reading) and see the schedule of services below.

Palm Sunday – triumph and tragedy
Palm Sunday is also called ‘Fig Sunday’ because figs were traditionally eaten this day to memorialize the fig tree that Jesus cursed after He came to Jerusalem. Perhaps the most memorable feature is the procession with palms, in which we recall the welcome Jesus received as He entered Jerusalem. But what begins with joy ends with sorrow, as we also recall the words of the crowds at His trial – ‘crucify Him, crucify Him’ – and our own part in the suffering of the Lord. As Bishop Barron reminds us, the victory is already won, but with this celebration we enter into somber reflection on the price Christ paid on our behalf.

Reviving old traditions – what is Tenebrae?
Looking over the schedule, you may notice a couple of celebrations that are not typical to most parishes. One of them is Tenebrae, also called ‘The Service of Shadows’. It is the name given to a nighttime service of Matins and Lauds, held on Spy Wednesday – the last day of Lent. Fifteen psalms – broken into three parts called Nocturns – are chanted monastic style with readings between each nocturn. The church where tenebrae is prayed is kept in darkness, lit only by a fifteen-candle hearse – with a candle extinguished after each psalm. The last candle is taken away and the strepitus rings out, symbolizing the closing of Jesus’ tomb. Final prayers are said together and the last candle is brought out to light the way as all depart in silence. Read more about it at Aleteia – and consider marking the conclusion of Lent and the beginning of the Sacred Triduum with the offering of Tenebrae.

Tre Ore – the three hours of Christ’s Passion
The Tre Ore is a liturgical service held on Good Friday from noon to 3 o’clock – the time when Jesus was suffering on the cross. During that time, the church is opened for quiet prayer, with confessions heard throughout. Spaced out during the three hours, seven brief homilies are given – one for each of the last words (or brief sayings) of Christ while He hung on the cross. Catholic Exchange has an explanation and short reflections on each of the seven last words.

Morning Prayer (lauds) as a way to start each day of the Triduum
The Liturgy of the Hours (also called the Divine Office or Breviary) is named such because various hours of the day are assigned specific prayers. Typically there are five hours – Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, and the Office of Readings. Though the Church obliges clergy and religious to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day, She invites every Catholic to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has an article explaining more about the it.

The Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday)
Though the celebration of these days is familiar, each one marks a different part of the movement of Christ’s saving work. Each liturgy is unique and special, offering an opportunity for those present to unite themselves more closing to His suffering and death – and to celebrate more joyfully His resurrection. Father Don Miller – a Franciscan writing for Franciscan Media – calls it ‘An Easter Pageant in Three Liturgical Acts‘, as he briefly summarizes each service & celebration.

Holy Week schedule at Saint Mark parish

Palm Sunday (April 2, 2023)
– 5:00 pm (Saturday vigil Mass) – simple procession
– 8:30 am – simple procession
– 10:30 am – solemn procession

Spy Wednesday (April 5, 2023)
– 5:00 Confessions
– 6:30 pm Tenebrae

Holy Thursday (April 6, 2023)
– 9:30 am Morning Prayer (Lauds)
– 6:30 pm Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper
– 8:00 pm Stripping of the altar
– 8 pm – midnight adoration

Good Friday (April 7, 2023)
– 9:30 am Morning Prayer (Lauds)
– 11:15 am Live Stations of the Cross (student-led)
– 12:00 pm Tre Ore (w/ confessions)
– 3:00 pm Stations of the Cross
– 6:30 pm Good Friday service of the Passion of the Lord

Holy Saturday (April 8, 2023)
– 9:30 am Morning Prayer (Lauds)
– 3:00 pm Confessions
– 8:30 pm Easter Vigil the Holy Night

Easter Sunday (April 9, 2023)
– 8:30 am Sunday Mass
– 10:30 am Sunday Mass