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Palm Sunday – the day after tomorrow, and Holy week begins

palmsunday-title

Entry to Jerusalem

Click here for a fine reflection by Bruce Epperly from Patheos on “Palm/Passion Sunday Celebration, Desolation and Healing.”

Image@http://godspace.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/palm-sunday-prayer-2013/

Image@http://godspace.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/palm-sunday-prayer-2013/

Soulfood

Walk of Witness down the High Street

Every year on the morning of Good Friday, the Churches Together gather together to process down the High Street in a Walk of Witness. As we walked along attesting to our Faith as Christians, volunteers walked alongside us handing out Bible verses and  Easter treats. There were more Walkers this year and it felt great. I think I ‘m beginning to see a glimmer of light with regard to the Ecumenical gatherings. It’s important for Christians of all denominations to stand firm on of matters  of  Faith, especially on Good Friday. The Choir treated us to beautiful sung harmonies. Overall, and uplifting experience.

I missed the last twenty minutes or so f the service, as we were aiming to get to Trafalgar Square for the twelve o’ clock  showing of the  ‘Passion of Jesus’,  put on by the fantastic cast of the Wintershall Estate. This was our first viewing of  ‘The Passion of Jesus’.

It takes place on an open air stage, viewed by thousands of onlookers, surging to get the clearest view of the actors in this beautiful play. (Next year I’ll make sure we get there early enough for front seat viewing!) The sound was perfect, considering the vast area covered during the performance and the competing central London traffic and hoards of tourists walking by.  There was an enormous screen on which the live acting was being screened, so that it didn’t matter whether you weren’t able to see the actors you would still be able to watch them on the big screen, and hear them clearly.

The story of The Passion began with a narrator’s  introduction, and from that moment on the crowd was hooked! Besides a little shuffling and readjusting to begin with, the group we were standing with were rooted to the spot. As the story progressed I was drawn into the play as an onlooker and participant, as was the rest of the audience. I heard nothing but what the actors were saying. I didn’t hear any traffic, but was acutely aware of this dramatic story being played out in  one of the most exciting, thronging capital cities of the world! As I watched and listened, I was humbled by this ‘simple’ , clear biography of Someone dying a torturous death for me. For me!! It felt like the first time I ‘d heard this story. And it seemed to the same for all who were gathered together on the Holiest days of the Christian calendar. You could literally hear a pin drop as the play progressed. Everyone drawn into the Life-Giving story of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, which is actually so simple. What spoke to me  most was the Humility of Our Lord  in the acceptance of His Work as directed by His Father. His acceptance of the importance of His Ultimate Sacrifice in the story of our salvation.  I was brought to tears by the Crucifixion scene and Our Lord’s reaching out, even on the Cross,  to his fellow humans. Two hours of this Magnificence ended on a high note with shouts of Alleluia, and ongoing clapping from the audience.

The cherry on the cake for me was the appearance of Bishop Vincent Nichols short address and finally praying with thousands of others the Our Father as in one voice.

This has truly been a Holy week to remember for me, and I look forward to next year, when I ‘ll meet the Lord in yet another way, on my Journey of Faith.

(All images taken by 1catholicsalmon)

7 Facts: Holy Week and the Early Church

image from pastorstrey.wordpress.com

1. The Gospels Antiquity of the Celebration of Holy   Week

From an attentive study of the Gospels, and particularly that of St. John, it might easily be inferred that already in Apostolic times a certain emphasis was laid upon the memory of the last week of Jesus Christ’s mortal life. The supper at Bethania must have taken place on the Saturday, “six days before the pasch” (John 12:1-2), and the triumphant entry into Jerusalem was made from there next morning.1

2. 4th Century: Pilgrimage of Ætheria

Of Christ’s words and deeds between this and His Crucifixion we have a relatively full record. But whether this feeling of the sanctity belonging to these days was primitive or not, it in any case existed in Jerusalem at the close of the fourth century, for the Pilgrimage of Ætheria contains a detailed account of the whole week, beginning with the service in the “Lazarium” at Bethania on the Saturday, in the course of which was read the narrative of the anointing of Christ’s feet. Moreover, on the next day, which, as Ætheria says, “began the week of the Pasch, which they call here the “Great Week”, a special reminder was addressed to the people by the archdeacon in these terms: “Throughout the whole week, beginning from to-morrow, let us all assemble in the Martyrium, that is the great church, at the ninth hour.” The commemoration of Christ’s triumphal entry into the city took place the same afternoon.

3. Rituals at the Mount of Olives

Great crowds, including even children too young to walk, assembled on the Mount of Olives and after suitable hymns, and antiphons, and readings, they returned in procession to Jerusalem, escorting the bishop, and bearing palms and branches of olives before him. Special services in addition to the usual daily Office are also mentioned on each of the following days. On the Thursday the Liturgy was celebrated in the late afternoon, and all Communicated, after which the people went to the Mount of Olives to commemorate with appropriate readings and hymns the agony of Christ in the garden and His arrest, only returning to the city as day began to dawn on the Friday.

4. Friday

On the Friday again there were many services, and in particular before midday there took place the veneration of the great relic of the True Cross, as also of the title which had been fastened to it; while for three hours after midday another crowded service was held in commemoration of the Passion of Christ, at which, Ætheria tells us, the sobs and lamentations of the people exceeded all description. Exhausted as they must have been, a vigil was again maintained by the younger and stronger of the clergy and by some of the laity.

5. Saturday

On the Saturday, besides the usual offices during the day, there took place the great paschal vigil in the evening, with the baptism of children and catechumens. But this, as Ætheria implies, was already familiar to her in the West. The account just summarized belongs probably to the year 388, and it is of the highest value as coming from a pilgrim and an eyewitness who had evidently followed the services with close attention.

6. Six Holy and Great Days

Still the observance of Holy Week as a specially sacred commemoration must be considerably older. In the first of his festal letters, written in 329, St. Athanasius of Alexandria speaks of the severe fast maintained during “those six holy and great days [preceding Easter Sunday] which are the symbol of the creation of the world”. He refers, seemingly, to some ancient symbolism which strangely reappears in the Anglo-Saxon martyrologium of King Alfred’s time. Further he writes, in 331: “We begin the holy week of the great pasch on the tenth of Pharmuthi in which we should observe more prolonged prayers and fastings and watchings, that we may be enabled to anoint our lintels with the precious blood and so escape the destroyer.”

7. Constantine & Ante-Constantine

From these and other references, e.g., in St. Chrysostom, the Apostolic Constitutions, and other sources, including a somewhat doubtfully authentic edict of Constantine proclaiming that the public business should be suspended in Holy Week, it seems probable that throughout the Christian world some sort of observance of these six days by fasting and prayer had been adopted almost everywhere by Christians before the end of the fourth century. Indeed it is quite possible that the fast of special severity is considerably older, for Dionysius of Alexandria (c. A.D. 260) speaks of some who went without food for the whole six days (see further under LENT). The week was also known as the week of the dry fast (xerophagia), while some of its observances were very possibly influenced by an erroneous etymology of the word Pasch, which was current among the Greeks. Pasch really comes from a Hebrew meaning “passage” (of the destroying angel), but the Greeks took it to be identical with paschein, to suffer.

SOURCE: The entirety of the article is quoted from the first section of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Holy Week

How does the Church celebrate Holy Thursday?

This video clip can be viewed at the Rome Reports website.

The Passion of Jesus Christ seen through the eyes of God the Father.

The “Make A Friar” Blogger Has A Voice

The start of Holy week.