Palm Sunday Processions
This year, we were hoping to be able to use the First Form of the Entrance for Palm Sunday at our 11am Mass. The First Form begins with all the faithful and ministers gathered someplace outside the church, where the blessing of palms and the reading of the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem take place. Then the procession of all would move from outside into the church for the rest of Mass. The other two Masses would have used the Second Form of the Entrance. The Second Form of the Entrance consists of a smaller gathering of the faithful inside of the church, but outside of the sanctuary, usually taking place in the narthex. Here, the same things would happen as the First Form, but the procession is much smaller in terms of the number of people and the distance travelled.
This year, however, the March weather has made the thawing of the parking lot very mixed with either precarious ice and snow or many wet puddles. Because of this, we will instead use the Second Form of the Entrance to begin Palm Sunday Mass at each of our three parish Masses, which is actually what we did last year. Hopefully, next year the weather may be more conducive to a bit of an outdoor procession which is more customary for Palm Sunday. We can certainly pray for decent weather for Good Friday which typically has many outdoor walks for a public Way of the Cross. And we are grateful this year that the “Blizzard of the Decade” should not be visiting us in time for the Triduum.
Holy Water/Baptismal Font
Some may have wondered why there was holy water still in the font during Lent, which may have been typically emptied during the whole season of Lent. This is because some parishes may have been influenced by novel ideas about how to make Lent distinctive than other seasons, and so would seek to create a “desert experience” to imitate Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, where holy water fonts would be emptied and even filled with sand. But the real desert experience of Lent is not found in these external appearances, but rather in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
With these disciplines and penance, we seek to renew our commitment to living out our baptism as authentic Christians, renewing our baptismal promises formally at Easter. With the emphasis on baptism, either as preparation for some or renewal for many, it would seem contrary to take away the largest sacramental sign of our baptism by emptying fonts during Lent. When the Church speaks of fasting for Lent, we don’t fast from the good and holy practices of our faith like sacramentals or sacraments. Additionally, while baptisms during Easter are the ideal time theologically, they can and do still happen during Lent.
That all being said, it is a good practice to empty holy water fonts in churches to be cleaned and refilled with the newly blessed water at the Easter Vigil. This is not a small task for our parish, so we will need the days during Holy Week for this. Our baptismal and holy water font will be emptied after Palm Sunday to be cleaned thoroughly and re-filled with new water which will be blessed at the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.
Food for Holy Thursday
Maundy Thursday is not a strange hybrid of Monday and Thursday. Maundy comes from the older English word for the Latin equivalent, mandatum, or Mandate. The Gospel passage from St. John is the example for Christ’s disciples to follow their Teacher and Lord in serving others in love: the mandatum to love one another as he has loved us.
This is not just expressed ritually with the unique washing of the feet, but also by the rubrics laid out for Holy Thursday: “At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, there may be a procession of the faithful in which gifts for the poor may be presented with the bread and wine.” I invited anyone who is attending our Holy Thursday celebration to bring a food item as a contribution to support the work of our own SSVP. Another significant ritual note is that the Missal actually calls for a specific hymn, which is hardly ever done, to be sung while this takes place: Ubi Caritas– “Where true charity is dwelling, God is present there.”
Good Friday and Divine Mercy
The Second Sunday of Easter has been celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday for quite some time now, since the canonization of St. Faustina by St. John Paull II in 2000. This year, we hope to increase the love and awareness of this great devotion to the Divine Mercy by celebrating the feast day in some special ways that Sunday (including a brunch after the 11am Mass). But more importantly, we invite all to pray the Divine Mercy novena (nine days of prayers), which fittingly starts on Good Friday. To start this beautiful novena, we shall be praying the first day’s prayers in the church together shortly after the Good Friday liturgy has concluded in silence, allowing those who wish to leave to do so quietly. We hope you might join us for the beginning of the novena on Good Friday and arrive with us at its conclusion, Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrating our merciful Lord in beautiful ways.
I wish you all a fruitful Holy Week. I am, in our Lord, yours.
Fr. Brian Trueman
Note: that there will be incense used at the liturgies for Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil