Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the celebration of Palm Sunday, the Church begins the most sacred days of the liturgical year. Holy Week, in its name and in the mysteries it celebrates, is designed to open our hearts and minds to the truth of the Lord’s great mercy and our need for the power of the Cross. We begin the week with the reading of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Moments later, we will reflect on the story of His Passion and death on the Cross. These twin Gospels set the stage for what this week is all about. Today, we begin to walk with Jesus as He brings to fulfillment the plan God made for the salvation of fallen humanity.
Monday is “Reconciliation Monday” throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport. Several parishes throughout Fairfield County have been designated as locations where the Sacrament of Confession will be available from 3 PM – 9 PM. In Fairfield, St. Pius X and Our Lady of the Assumption are the two designated parishes. Assumption Church in Westport is also a site for these confessions. I encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful sacrament of God’s mercy!
Holy Thursday is the day on which we celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood. We begin with Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM in the Chapel. Later in the morning, the priests of the Diocese gather with the Bishop for the Chrism Mass, during which the Bishop consecrates the oil to be used throughout the year in sacramental celebrations. In the evening, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (at 7:30 PM) brings us to the upper room with Jesus and the Apostles. We witness Jesus establish the Eucharist as the Church’s nourishing spiritual food, and His establishment of the priesthood for the sake of service in the Church and the celebration of the Eucharistic mysteries. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist is brought to an altar of repose, representing the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed with the Apostles before being arrested. I encourage you to participate in the ancient tradition of visiting the altars of repose at various churches in the area after the Mass.
Good Friday marks the day of the Lord’s Passion. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. We go with Jesus from arrest to trial to Calvary to tomb. It is a day of profound reflection and prayer. We begin with Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM in the Chapel. We will pray the Stations of the Cross at noon in the Church. At 3 PM, the Lord’s Passion is celebrated, with the veneration of the Cross. This year, we have moved the celebration of Tenebrae to Good Friday evening at 7 PM. Tenebrae is a beautiful liturgical practice rooted in monastic life, during which we prayerfully reflect on the words of Scripture relating to Jesus’ Passion as the darkness of night grows more profound.
Holy Saturday again begins with Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM in the Chapel. At 10 AM, we will have a special blessing of Easter baskets and food. Spiritually, it is a day of waiting and expectation. We await the good news of Christ’s Resurrection. The Sacrament of Confession will be available from 2 PM – 4 PM. The Easter Vigil, the most important liturgical celebration of the entire year, begins at 8 PM. During this beautiful Mass, we proclaim the Resurrection and those who have been preparing to receive the Sacraments of Initiation are received in to the life of the Church. If you have never experienced the Easter Vigil, don’t miss it this year!
May your Holy Week truly draw you closer to our Lord’s merciful Heart and be for you a source of grace and sanctification!