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Holy Week 2018

Photo: Janet Wamsley

Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018
7:45 a.m. Low Mass with Blessing of Palms
10:30 a.m.: Ecumenical Blessing of Palms and Procession from Washington Circle, followed by Solemn Mass
6:00 p.m.: Solemn Evensong & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Monday, March 26 - Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Confessions held before and after Low Masses or by appointment
6:45 a.m.: Morning Prayer
7:00 a.m.: Low Mass
5:30 p.m.: Shrine Prayers
5:45 p.m.: Evening Prayer
6:00 p.m.: Low Mass

Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018
5:45 p.m.: Evening Prayer
6:45 p.m.: Solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper, followed by all-night vigil at Altar of Repose

Good Friday, March 30, 2018
Noon: Stations of the Cross
12:45 p.m.: Confessions
5:45 p.m.: Evening Prayer
6:00 p.m.: Confessions
6:45 p.m.: Liturgy of the Day

Holy Saturday & The Great Vigil of Easter, March 31, 2018
8:00 p.m.: The Great Vigil of Easter

Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day, April 1, 2018
8:00 a.m.: Low Mass
9:30 a.m.: Children's Liturgy of the Light
10:00 a.m.: Choral Matins
10:45 a.m.: Easter Egg Hunt
11:15 a.m.: Procession and Solemn Mass
please note there is no 6:00 p.m. Solemn Evensong and Benediction on Easter Day.

About the Holy Week and Triduum Liturgies

Palm Sunday is a Mass of contrasts. There is the exhilaration and exuberance of the Palm Procession; the congregation enters the church, as did the people of the Gospel, waving palms and chanting “Hosanna: Lord save us now!” But as soon as the Mass begins, one notices by way of contrast a scaled-down Mass of simplicity, and at the heart of that Mass is the solemn proclamation of the Passion Gospel. This is chanted on Palm Sunday to ancient tones, a moving reminder, like the other ancient tones of the liturgies of Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter, of the fact that, for nearly 2,000 years, people have sung these words to these notes in commemoration of these events. The Mass of the Passion on Palm Sunday seems to set us up for the tone of Holy Week.

The Triduum Sacrum This is one liturgy in three parts, one liturgy that covers three days. Act I is the liturgy of Maundy Thursday, Act II is the liturgy of Good Friday, and the final Act of the Triduum, Act III, is at the Great Vigil and First Mass of Easter on the night of Holy Saturday. This is one seamless commemoration and sacramental moment. To that end, the recent custom at St. Paul’s is to have the same celebrant and the same preacher for the three Acts, to underscore the unity of the liturgy as a whole. In the celebration of the Triduum, one would, in three days, participate in the essentials of the Christian faith and proclamation. Indeed the liturgies of the Triduum draw us in, not to a mere commemoration of these events, but to a sacramental participation in these redeeming events.

The Rite of Maundy Thursday, beginning with all the joy and rapture of a usual Solemn Mass with white vestments and flowers on the altars, ends with the altars stripped, the church bare and, emanating from the Angel Chapel—where the presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament reposes in an amazing garden—a glow and warmth draws us into the presence of the Lord. Then, we keep the watch for a full twenty-four hours, following the invitation of the Lord to his disciples, “Would you not watch with me for one hour?” In order to meet the devotional needs of those who maintain this remarkable watch each year, we extend the watch through Good Friday until 6:45 p.m., when, as it were, we turn the clocks back in our hearts and minds until the hours of noon to three, the hours of the Lord’s agony and death.

The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday is of ancient origin and of extraordinary power. The very first action of the liturgy is striking: the sacred ministers enter in silence and prostrate themselves on the floor before the bare altar. This ritual gesture is unique in the Christian year and underscores the profundity and indeed sadness and humility that accompany the commemoration of these tragic yet saving events. At the heart of the Liturgy of the Word is the solemn chanting of the Gospel of the Passion, followed by the remarkable Solemn Collects, bringing into our commemoration of the work of the cross the needs of the church and the world. The ritual action here reflects the practice of the early church, with the Deacon bidding the congregation to pray and to “arise,” and the tones for these prayers are unique in the course of the year and also of ancient origin. The cross is then brought in for veneration and lifted up and unveiled for us by the Deacon as we “behold the wood of the cross,” and we fall to our knees and worship. Then, two by two, we bring ourselves literally to the foot of the cross and expose ourselves and our sins in all our vulnerability to the vulnerability of the Lord, whereby the place of death will become the place of resurrection and new life.

The Great Vigil of Easter is the most significant liturgy of the Christian year. This liturgy, on the evening of Holy Saturday, also has ancient ritual and chant. A great fire is lit at the back of the church. From that fire, the Paschal candle is lit, and as the fire dies down, the single flame of the Paschal candle dispels the darkness of the church, which had been a place of death when we last entered it, and the warmth of the fire and the candles dispel the coldness of loss, tragedy, and death, as new life emerges among us and within us by the light and power of the Resurrection. The Deacon proclaims ”The light of Christ,” proceeding down the nave to the choir steps, and the Deacon makes that proclamation in the exact same places where the cross was lifted up the previous evening. Thus, literally the place of death and darkness becomes the place of life and light. There follows the great hymn to the resurrection—again an ancient text set to an ancient tone—the Exsultet—sung in the light of the resurrection and celebrating that light. There then follows a series of Old Testament readings, read within the light of that resurrection candle—that is the Hebrew scriptures, seen in the light of Christ as we trace together God’s ancient story of love and call and redemption down the ages. Into this great story of redemption and salvation we then bring those who are to be baptized as well as those who are to be confirmed, received and to reaffirm their baptismal vows. As was the ancient practice, the Bishop presides at this liturgy and the Bishop will baptize, confirm, receive, and receive reaffirmations of baptismal vows. As we who witness these sacramental rites are also reaffirming our own baptismal vows, so we, too, may be changed and transformed. And then the great moment is the First Mass of Easter, when with literally great fanfare and explosion of light and sound, the First Mass of the Resurrection is gloriously announced and unfolds in a polyphony of alleluias and thanksgivings!

Adapted from a letter to the parish by the Ninth Rector

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2430 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037
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An Anglo-Catholic Parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
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