Dear Friends in Christ,
Holy Week includes the last of the 40 Days of Lent, the Sacred Paschal Triduum, and Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. These are the holiest days of the year and the annual celebration of the sacred mysteries through which we are saved from sin and death and restored to the glory of the children of God.
Today, on Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, the sacred liturgy begins with this instruction from the priest: “Dear brethren, since the beginning of Lent until now, we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works. Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the celebration of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery, that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection. For it was to accomplish this mystery that he entered his own city of Jerusalem. Therefore, with all faith and devotion, let us commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation, following in his footsteps, so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross, we may have a share also in his Resurrection and life.”
On Tuesday of this Holy Week, all the priests in South Carolina will gather with our Bishop at the altar of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist in Charleston. There we will renew the promises of our priestly ordination, and the Bishop will bless the three Holy Oils that are used throughout the year in the celebration of the sacraments.
On Maundy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper, we will celebrate a Solemn Mass in the evening to recall Christ’s gifts to the Church of the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. Then the Most Blessed Sacrament will be carried to a place of repose and the altar will be stripped — signs of the impending grief to come.
On Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, we will meditate on the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus as recorded in the Gospel according to St. John, and then we will adore the Holy Cross on which hung the salvation of the world.
Then, in the night of Holy Saturday, we will keep the Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord. The whole plan of salvation will be unfolded in Holy Scripture, and the sacraments of Holy Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist will reveal the glory of the Risen Christ in our midst. Finally, at Mass on Easter Sunday, all the baptized will renew the promises of their Baptism so that we may rededicate ourselves to follow Christ in the Holy Catholic Church. But all that lies ahead. For now, let us acclaim Christ: Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel. Hosanna in the highest.