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Holy Week is most important week of the year, Pope says
CNA ^ | April 8, 2009

Posted on 04/08/2009 9:27:20 AM PDT by NYer

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Apr 8, 2009 / 10:02 am (CNA).- Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square today to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly General Audience and catechesis.  The Holy Father discussed Holy Week, describing the period as “the most important week of the year, offering us the chance to immerse ourselves in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Easter Mystery, the great Mystery of the faith."

The Pope explained how Jesus "did not wish to use the fact of His being God, His glorious dignity and His power, as an instrument of triumph and a sign of distance." Out of love for us, "He wished to 'empty Himself' and become our brother. For love, He shared our condition, the condition of all men and women."

The Holy Father described the Chrism Mass, which was celebrated on Tuesday, as "a prelude to the Easter Triduum which begins tomorrow." He explained that at that Mass, "priestly vows pronounced on the day of Ordination are renewed," and that it “has particular significance this year because it comes as a kind of preparation for the Year for Priests.” Pope Benedict added that he called for the year to “mark the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars,'” and that it will begin on June 19.

During Holy Thursday Mass, also called the “Lord's Supper,” the Church "commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the priestly ministry and the mandatum novum (new commandment) of charity which Jesus left to His disciples," the Pope said. It “is a renewed invitation to give thanks unto God for the supreme gift of the Eucharist, which must be welcomed with devotion and adored with living faith."

The Pope proceeded to discuss Good Friday, “the day of the passion and crucifixion of the Lord.” “Christ's death recalls the mass of pain and evil weighing upon humanity in every epoch: the crushing weight of our own mortality, the hatred and violence which still bloody the earth today. The Lord's passion continues in the suffering of mankind," Benedict XVI said.

"If Good Friday is a day full of sadness,” he added, “it is at the same time the best day on which to reawaken our faith, to strengthen our hope and the courage to carry our cross with humility and trust, abandoning ourselves to God in the certainty of His support and His victory."

The Holy Father noted how “this hope is nourished in the great silence of Easter Saturday as we await the resurrection of Jesus." “The Church keeps prayerful vigil, like Mary and with Mary, sharing her feelings of pain and of trust in God,” he stated. “Rightly we are advised to spend the whole day in an atmosphere of prayer, one favorable to meditation and reconciliation. The faithful are encouraged to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance so that, thus renewed, they can participate in the Easter celebrations."

The Easter Vigil, which Pope Benedict called the “mother of all vigils,” proclaims to the faithful "once again the victory of light over darkness, of life over death.” At the Easter Vigil, said Benedict, “the Church will rejoice at the meeting with her Lord. Thus will we enter the atmosphere of Easter Day."

Pope Benedict concluded by inviting Christians "to enter into the Cenacle with the Virgin Mary, to stand with her at the foot of the cross, to watch over the dead Christ, hopefully awaiting the bright dawn of the day of resurrection."

Following his reflections on Holy Week, Benedict XVI switched from Italian to Spanish and greeted 4,300 students currently attending the UNIV international congress, being held this week in Rome under the auspices of the Prelature of Opus Dei.

"Dear friends," said the Pope, "I encourage you to respond with joy to the Lord's call in order to give full meaning to your lives: in your studies, in your relationships with your colleagues, in the family and in society. 'Many things depend,' St. Josemaria Escriva said, 'on whether you and I live our lives as God wants,' an important teaching.”

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Worship
KEYWORDS: holyweek; vatican

1 posted on 04/08/2009 9:27:20 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

An Introduction to the Holy Week

What is it and how is celebrated?

Is the reenacting the Passion of Our Lord

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. Holy Week begins on 16 March 2008 and ends on 22 March 2008.

In most churches, the decorations are red to symbolize the blood of martyrdom. Some churches remove all decorations on Good Friday, veiling anything that can’t be removed in black or purple. Holy water is also removed from the fonts in churches on Good Friday and Holy Saturday in preparation for the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. This removal also corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated.

Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday)
Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday)
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
The time from sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Day is also known as the Triduum, which is Latin for “three days.”

Some History

Holy Week observances began in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the Church, when devout people traveled to Jerusalem at Passover to reenact the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.

Egeria was a Christian who traveled widely during the period of 381-385 and wrote about Christian customs and observances in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. She described how religious tourists to Jerusalem reenacted the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday afternoon, the crowds waved palm fronds as they made a procession from the Mount of Olives into the city. Of course, the observances must have begun quite a number of years before Egeria witnessed them, or they wouldn’t have been so elaborate. It’s just that Egeria’s description is the earliest we still have. The tourists took the customs home with them. Holy week observances spread to Spain by the fifth century, to Gaul and England by the early seventh century. They didn’t spread to Rome until the twelfth century.

The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week is the same in the eastern and western Church, but because eastern Christians use the Julian Calendar to calculate Easter, the celebrations occur at different times. However, the following events in the week before Easter are the same, east and west, relative to the date of Easter:

• Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
• Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday), the institution of Communion and the betrayal by Judas.
• Good Friday, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
• Holy Saturday, the Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.

Reconstructing the Holy Week from Scripture

Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover
The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on Thursday. We might call it Friday Eve, because by Jewish reckoning, the day begins with the previous sunset. That’s why we call 24 December “Christmas Eve.” Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. They ate it early, which was not uncommon. In that era, most Passover Seders did not include lamb, because most Jews lived too far away from the Temple to obtain a lamb that was kosher for Passover. Therefore the disciples, who were from Galilee, would have been accustomed to a Passover Seder without lamb. Judas left during the meal. Jesus and the remaining disciples adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and the disciples kept falling asleep. Judas arrived to betray Jesus, who spent the rest of the night being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate. The following morning, which was still the same day by Jewish reckoning, the Crucifixion significantly took place just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:55-56, and John 19:31 all inform us that this took place on Preparation Day, which is the Jewish name for Friday. Mark and John explain that the next day was the Sabbath. Later the disciples realized that in giving them the bread and pronouncing it His body, Jesus Himself had been the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Thus Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for our sins on Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His blood protects us from the angel of death. Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath
Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. According to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, and Luke 23:56-24:3, the day before the Resurrection was a Sabbath. This is the second day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits
On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after the Sabbath, according to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 23:56-24:3. John 20:1 says the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. He does not explicitly say that the previous day was the Sabbath, but there is no room in his narrative for any intervening days. The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the new creation in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

Biblical Foundations:
• Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all inform us that the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place on Preparation Day.
• Mark and John inform us that the next day, the day after the Crucifixion, was the Sabbath.
• Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John inform us that the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week.
• Matthew, Mark, and Luke inform us that the day before the Resurrection was the Sabbath, and John heavily implies it.

Ancient Christian writers confirm this reconstruction. In The Apostolic Constitutions, Book V, Section III, it says that the Last Supper occurred on the fifth day of the week (Thursday), that Jesus was crucified on the next day (Friday), and rose on the first day (Sunday), and it explicitly states that this constitutes three days and three nights. The Apostolic Constitutions uses Roman-style midnight-to-midnight days, so this squares with the New Testament’s use of sundown-to-sundown days. It also says that Jesus gave the apostles a commandment to pass on to us, to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays; the first to commemorate His betrayal, the second to commemorate His passion on the cross.

Therefore, it is obvious that the Crucifixion took place on a Friday, that Jesus rested in the tomb on Saturday, and rose from the grave on Sunday. So, you might ask, why didn’t the gospel writers just come right out and say that it was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? The answer is that they did, for the circumstances under which they wrote. They were writing for an audience beyond Palestine, and in the Roman Empire of the first century, there was no general consensus about the names of the days of the week, the number of the current year, the names and lengths of the months, the date of the new year, or the time at which the day began. On that last point, the day began at midnight in Egypt, at sunrise in Greece, and at sunset in Palestine. So even though it is not what we are used to, the gospels are really worded in such a way as to make the dates and times comprehensible to anyone in the Roman Empire who was familiar with the Jewish Scriptures.

When you count days you get a different answer than when you subtract dates. If you go to a three-day seminar that begins on Friday, you expect it to end on Sunday, because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are three days. However, if you subtract the date of Friday from the date of Sunday, the answer is two elapsed days. The ancients counted days instead of calculating elapsed time—in fact, Jesus Himself counted days this way in Luke 13:31-32. This is why the tradition is universal that Jesus spent three days in the tomb when He was buried on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday. All intervals in the Jewish and Christian calendars are calculated the same way, which is why Pentecost falls on a Sunday and not on a Monday.


2 posted on 04/08/2009 9:28:18 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

This year in our school district, Easter Vacation(Spring Break)started a week early so that it completely bypasses Good Friday and Easter.

I was wondering if they just goofed during scheduling or if there is a more nefarious reason for the change.

3 posted on 04/08/2009 9:32:50 AM PDT by Califreak (111th Congress: Destroying America With Reckless Abandon)
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To: Califreak
This year in our school district, Easter Vacation(Spring Break)started a week early so that it completely bypasses Good Friday and Easter.

Was it the only CA school district to schedule the break at this time or was this the universal approach across the state?

4 posted on 04/08/2009 9:59:50 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Spring vacation was last week here.

5 posted on 04/08/2009 10:03:55 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Holy Week is most important week of the year, Pope says
Tenebrae [Liturgy]

Now it begins… Now it all Begins: Holy Week
Spy Wednesday
Holy Week
Holy Week in the Catholic Tradition

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil
Good Friday
Holy Thursday

Holy Week and the Triduum
Passiontide and Holy Week
Why Do We Call it the Passion?
The Easter Triduum: Entering into the Paschal Mystery
Cardinal Arinze on How to Live Holy Week - Urges Spirit of Faith and Gratitude

We Will Relive the Passion, Death and Resurrection [Audience with Pope Benedict XVI]
Holy Week Recovers Celebration of Penance (at St. Peter's Basilica) - photos!
History of Holy Week (rooted in the 2nd century)
Holy Week Starts Today - Hosanna to the King of Kings!
The Meaning of Holy Week

6 posted on 04/08/2009 10:12:33 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

It is not statewide.

Neighboring cities have the traditional schedule.

I should probably make a phone call.

7 posted on 04/08/2009 10:16:58 AM PDT by Califreak (111th Congress: Destroying America With Reckless Abandon)
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To: Califreak

The districts here change it up to avoid college and high school being at the same time. Something about keeping the teenagers away from the college parties (as if that would work pfffttt).

I was going to take Thursday and Friday night off this week (I’m one of those that works in the night), but my coworker that I fill in for asked at the same time and evidently taking one’s son hunting over Easter weekend is more important. (le sigh)

I will probably still try to go to Thursday night mass and Rosary for Life/Friday mass. But I will be losing massive amounts of sleep.

8 posted on 04/08/2009 11:02:38 AM PDT by neb52
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To: Califreak
I should probably make a phone call.

Yes ... and make sure you take clear notes on who made this decision and why. Be certain to repeat the information back to the individual to ensure proper spelling, etc. Do you have any statistics on the percentage of christian and jewish children attend this school?

When my daughter was in HS, she came home quite upset one day at the students allowed to wear tape over their mouths in support of the "Day of Silence". Take note, this national gay day is slotted for the week after Easter ( Day of Silence). The following day I called the school and tracked down the individual repsonsible for allowing this program into the school. I voiced my disgust at a non-educational program and threatened to send my daughter into school the following day with tape over her mouth in support of the innocent babies being aborted with tax dollars. To the best of my knowledge, the program was not repeated the following year.

9 posted on 04/08/2009 11:04:48 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

I just called my daughter’s elementary school.

They told me it was in order to have an extra week to prepare for testing and also for “religious”(anti-religious)reasons.

I knew it.

The lady I spoke with wasn’t happy about it either, because the kids don’t even get to leave early for Good Friday.

10 posted on 04/08/2009 11:27:13 AM PDT by Califreak (111th Congress: Destroying America With Reckless Abandon)
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To: Califreak
The lady I spoke with wasn’t happy about it either, because the kids don’t even get to leave early for Good Friday.

I would have no qualms about absenting my daughter on Good Friday for religious reasons. It is the holiest day of the year!

11 posted on 04/08/2009 11:39:51 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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