Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we begin Holy Week today, we read the dual Gospels of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem and the Passion. While they are starkly different, they are intimately related, for they show the full spectrum of spiritual response to the presence of Jesus. In the entrance into Jerusalem, we see the exuberant celebration that comes from knowing the closeness of God to us, while in the Passion narrative, we will see indifference to the Lord, expressions of desire for God’s mercy, our betrayal of God’s love, and the confrontation with the reality of sin in our lives. The whole of the Lenten season has been an opportunity to recognize these elements in our spiritual lives. With the start of Holy Week, the Church invites us to a deeper reflection on our own response to the salvific work of Christ, and to unite with Him in the saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Monday of Holy Week has again been designated as “Reconciliation Monday” in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at churches throughout Fairfield County from 3 PM – 9 PM. In our deanery, confessions will be heard at Our Lady of the Assumption (545 Stratfield Rd.), St. Thomas Aquinas (1719 Post Rd.), and Assumption Church (98 Riverside Ave. Westport). A complete list of all the parishes can be found at www.bridgeportdiocese.org. In addition, confessions will be available at St. Pius on Wednesday from 7 – 8 PM, and on Saturday, from 1 – 3 PM.
On Holy Thursday, the Church marks the institution of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. Traditionally, this is also the day for the Chrism Mass, in which the Bishop blesses the oils that will be used in the sacraments throughout the year. During the Chrism Mass, priests renew their priestly promises. During the evening, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, marking the beginning of the Paschal Triduum. These three holy days are our liturgical entrance into the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper, we will walk with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where we will pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. A long-standing tradition invites us to symbolically stay in the Garden by visiting the altar of repose after the Holy Thursday Mass. Many churches keep their doors open into the night hours.
Good Friday is the day of the Lord’s crucifixion. As such, it is a somber day of prayer, fasting, and abstinence. We will begin the day here with Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM. At noon, we will pray the Stations of the Cross. And at 3 PM, the celebration of the Lord’s Passion takes place, with the veneration of the Cross. In the evening, the office of Tenebrae will be prayed, an ancient practice of reflecting on Scripture and entering into the darkness of the tomb with Jesus.
Holy Saturday is the day of waiting. In the silence of the day, we prayerfully prepare for the joy of the Resurrection. We will have a special blessing of Easter baskets and food on the steps of the church at 10 AM. Confessions will be available from 1 – 3 PM. In the Easter Vigil, which begins at 7:30 PM, our catechumens and candidates will receive the sacraments of initiation and join us in full communion of faith. The Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the entire year – if you have never experienced it, I encourage you to make the time to come. While it is longer than an average Mass, it is full of beauty and an opportunity to welcome the light of Christ’s Resurrection. Please note that on Holy Saturday, there is no 5:15 PM Mass.
I encourage you to join in each of the celebrations of the Triduum, especially if you have never done so before. There is no better way to spiritually participate in the glory of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection! On Easter, we will welcome many visitors to share the joy of new life and celebrate the victory of Christ’s triumph over sin and death. May our observances of Holy Week help to prepare us to be witnesses of the Resurrection, and give us hearts that share the Good News with all we meet.