Today’s Gospel – Palm Sunday
This Sunday, called Palm or Passion Sunday, is the first day of Holy Week. There are two Gospels proclaimed at today's Mass - the first, proclaimed before the procession with palms, tells of Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Riding on a borrowed colt, Jesus was hailed by the crowds as they shouted blessings and praise to God. This event is reported in each of the four Gospels but Luke's Gospel is the only one to report the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus' response shows that this event, and those yet to come, are part of a divine plan.
At the Liturgy of the Word on this Sunday, the events of Jesus' passion are proclaimed in their entirety. In Lectionary Cycle C, we read the passion of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Luke. When Luke describes the Way of the Cross and Jesus' crucifixion, he calls to our attention many events that are not reported in the other Gospels. Throughout his Gospel, Luke has paid heed to the women who accompanied Jesus. Now, on the road to Calvary, Jesus speaks to the women who walk with him. Only Luke reports Jesus' words of forgiveness spoken from the cross and only Luke reports the dialogue between Jesus and the good thief. Finally, in contrast with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Luke reports no words of abandonment spoken by Jesus on the cross. Instead, Jesus, in full command until his death, commends his spirit to his Father and takes his final breath.
Throughout Holy Week, we will continue to reflect on the events of Jesus' passion and death. As we meditate on the cross, we ask again and anew what it means to make the statement of faith that Jesus, in his obedient suffering and dying, revealed himself to us as God's Son and brought to fulfilment the Kingdom of God.
Holy Week is the most solemn and glorious week in Christianity, the pinnacle of the liturgical year. It is more sacred than Christmas! This is because Holy Week commemorates the final week of Our Lord's life, the very purpose for which Christmas happened. Holy Week begins today with Palm Sunday, when Jesus made his final triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday is considered the most solemn part of the liturgical year. This three-day period is referred to as the Sacred Triduum when we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, the solemn liturgy of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, the most glorious, beautiful, and dramatic liturgy of the Church, after nightfall on Holy Saturday.
Chrism Mass - Tuesday
This beautiful service takes place in St John's cathedral, Norwich, at 7:00 pm. The Oils for the Sacraments used throughout the diocese during the coming year, are blessed by the Bishop, and priests, deacons and people renew their commitment to serve.
On Thursday evening we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, where the Church relives the institution of the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Last Supper, as well as the institution of the priesthood, which took place the evening before Jesus was crucified. After the homily, there is a washing of the feet ceremony, where the priest washes the feet of others to signify his role as servant, just as Jesus did with his disciples. The Mass concludes with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose, where watching with the Lord will continue until 10:00 pm.
Friday of this week is Good Friday. There will be Stations of the Cross at 9:30am and we will celebrate the Passion of the Lord at 3:00 pm. It is one of only two days of fasting and abstinence in the church’s year. After the 3:00 pm service, there will be a retiring collection taken for the Shrines of The Holy Land.
A vigil Mass is held after nightfall on Holy Saturday, or before dawn on Easter Sunday, in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The vigil is divided into four parts - the service of light, the liturgy of the Word, the liturgy of Baptism, and the liturgy of the Eucharist. This is also the service where our four Catechumens will be baptised, confirmed and enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
During this, the most important week in the church’s liturgy, you are all encouraged to take a full and active part in the Holy Week services, leading to the culmination of the Pascal Mystery: The Resurrection.