17 Apr 2011

Holy Week - 17th April 2011 - Passion (Palm) Sunday - Year A

This weeks show is a bit different to our normal Sunday show as we have an interview with a representative from Trocaire about their work in support of the their Lenten campaign and then John and Shane discuss Holy Week and reflect on the various ceremonies and prayers associated with the Great Week.


 Eithne McNulty took the time to come and speak on the programme this week to inform people know the work that Trocaire does and this years Lenten campaign.

Trocaire is the official body set up by the bishops in 1973 and is charged with two main tasks; to help the poorest of the poor overseas and to create an awareness of development issues among the people in Ireland. It is not just an issue of giving handouts but rather to build a sustainable development model empowering the poorest of the poor to be able to work for their own rights and betterment in a holistic manner.

Eithne talks about the Lenten campaign which this year focus' on Honduras which is the third poorest country after Haiti and Nicaragua in Central America. It is a country where 25% of under 5's die of malnutrition and 65% of the population live on less than $2 a day. There are many problems with land rights to obtain and protect their ability to grow their own food and Trocaire assists local communities in fighting for their rights against a corrupt government.

Last year the people of Limerick gave €263,000 for the Lenten campaign, which went towards to the great work of Trocaire but the work continues, so please consider giving what you can to support the campaign this year.If you can give even a little through any of the following methods it will be used to help the poorest of the poor:
  • Trocaire Box given into local parishes/schools (especially this week as special collections will be taken up Holy Thursday)
  • Trocaire website to donate
  • Call 1850408408
  • Post: Trocaire, Maynooth, Co Kildare
To read more about Trocaire's Lenten Campaign read here and have a look at this short video from Trocaire.

Holy Week

We are entering into a liturgically intensive week ahead as we enter into the most solemn week of the liturgical year - Holy Week leading onto Easter Sunday. An important week which is the raison d'être for Christianity.

We go through this week using very physical things - wine, bread, oil, water, light, dark - so we can experience it with all our senses and realise the importance of this most special of weeks.

We should take the time to pick up our missal or missalette and go through the structure of the ceremonies and reflect on what they mean and represent, using the liturgy to guide us into deeper reflection on this most special time.

Leading us into the reflection on Holy Week, John read from the following from Deacon Greg Kandra from the blog 'The Deacons Bench':

"We're in the final stretch before Holy Week, set to begin this Sunday, Palm Sunday.With all the busyness and distractions, it can be easy to forget what this coming week is really about. Back in the 1960s, there was a TV show called "That Was the Week That Was," which satirized current events. It was a precursor to "Saturday Night Live" or "The Daily Show." Well, what we are beginning Sunday will mark the ultimate "week that was." The liturgies of this coming week are powerful and primal. We are a part of something both ancient and new, and what we do this week reminds us of that. The altar will be stripped. The cross will be venerated. The tabernacle will be emptied. The Blessed Sacrament will be moved. Bells will be stilled.

It is unlike any other time in our Catholic calendar.

This week, take the time to think deeply about what we are doing, and what we are remembering. Take time to realize what this week has meant to the world.

For close to two thousand years, we have gathered like this, to light candles and chant prayers and read again the ancient stories of our deliverance and redemption. But are we aware of what we are doing? Do we understand what it means? Do we realize the price that was paid?"

It is a very thought provoking piece which we would encourage you to read the rest of the piece that John read out here.

Palm Sunday - The commemoration of Jesus' messianic entry into the holy city of Jerusalem where Jesus is acknowledged by the crowds from Galilee but ignored by the people of the city. We re-enact this entry into the holy city with our own procession with palms and songs.

Spy Wednesday - The day associated with the gospel account of Judas' going to the Jewish leaders to agree to betray Jesus.

Chrism Mass - A Mass led by the bishop of the diocese with all the priests of the diocese where the Holy Oils will be blessed for use during the following year. Bishop Kieran O'Rielly, Bishop of Killaloe, has kindly agreed to bless the Holy Oils for the Diocese of Limerick this year. Instead of a Chrism Mass, we will gather for a Holy Hour in St John’s Cathedral on: Wednesday 20th April from 7.30pm - 8.30pm. Everyone is invited to come and pray together, and refreshments will be available for all afterwards. Catholics use three kinds of sacred oils during our sacraments. They are:
  • The Oil of Catechumens - a blessed olive oil used in Baptism, in the consecration of churches, in the blessing of alters and in the ordination of priests.
  • Chrism oil - an olive oil mixed with a small amount of balsam (perfume) which is used in Confirmation, Baptism, ordination, in the consecration of a Bishop, the consecration of various things such as churches, patens and bells.
  • The Oil of the Sick - used in the anointing of the sick.
The blessing of oils is performed by the Bishop of each diocese on Holy Thursday, (or the eve before it), in the diocese's cathedral during the Chrism Mass. While we await our new Bishop, we have asked Bishop Kieran O’Rielly of Killaloe to bless the Holy Oils for us this year.  All Holy Oils that will be used in sacraments and blessings in this diocese are blessed once and together during Holy Week. This is a strong statement of unity – a reminder to us all that we one. Each parish priest then collects Holy Oils for the parish he is ministering in. We will use these Holy Oils at times of great joy or sorrow in our lives across the whole year - and as we do we are united with all our brothers and sister in Christ who are likewise blessed.

Holy Thursday (Maudy Thursday) - The beginning of the Sacred Tridium of Easter which begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper where the entire community gathers around the alter of the Lord with their priests in the evening as the evening in the Jewish tradition is the beginning of the next day. Sometimes it is called called Maudy Thursday which comes from Mandatum = Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. Again the symbolism of the night includes the Washing of the Feet to remind us that we are servants to each other, none of us any greater or more powerful than our Divine Master. 

Holy Thursday celebrates both the Institution of the Eucharist by Christ and the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood - the role and function of priests in the church today because Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples but he himself is the Passover sacrifice.
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,”
At the end of the Mass we have the movement of the Blessed Sacrament to the Alter of Repose, almost symbolically demonstrating the Lord leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane, where he under went a mental challenge to accept the will of the Father for what was to come. For us, the great call which still comes down to us is the question that was posed to the disciples "Can you not keep watch one hour with me?".

Good Friday - The Day of the Lords Passion with no Mass celebrated anywhere today. We are accompanying and commemorating the Lords Passion on the first Good Friday. The service generally held at 3pm consists of Liturgy of the Word with the Passion according to St John proclaimed, the Veneration of the Cross (the instrument of our salvation) and a Service of Holy Communion (or Mass of the Pre-Sanctified). The focus of the day is on the Act of Salvation for humanity which we mark with solemn liturgy and observing the day as one of fast and abstinence. The liturgy focus' on the instrument of our salvation, the Cross, an thing of shame and despair, used in the dump outside the city walls.  Where would you have been on Good Friday? Would you have been with Mary at the foot of the Cross or hiding with Peter and the rest? It should be a day of reflection, penitence and silence as we reflect on the great event of our salvation.

Holy Saturday - The Church waits in silence at the tomb of the Divine Master as he has "descended to the dead" amd we wait in darkness and silence until the Easter Vigil which can be broken down into four parts - liturgy of Light, the liturgy of the Word, liturgy of Baptism and liturgy of Eucharist.

The Easter Vigil begins with darkness. The darkness represents all darkness, and all the meanings of darkness: the darkness of our world, and the darkness in my heart. If I come to the vigil and restlessly and impatiently fidget in the dark "until something happens," I miss the power of what is about to happen. So, we prepare for the Easter Vigil by readying ourselves to experience the darkness. It is uncomfortable and confusing, humbling and nervous. Then a light is struck. It breaks into the darkness like nothing else can.

"Make this new fire holy, and inflame us with new hope."
"May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds"

The candle lit from the new Pascal fire is then brought into the community in procession, and we receive its light, and the power of that light grows. We sing: The Light of Christ: Thanks be to God! The experience of darkness now heightens our senses in this dramatic moment and helps our prayer. When the candle is brought front and centre, we hear the Easter Proclamation, or Exultet.

"Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!"

So it’s clear now why the entire celebration of the Easter Vigil must take place at night. The Easter Vigil does not correspond to the usual Saturday evening Mass. To light a fire and candles and speak of “this holy night, “and “Christ the Morning Star,” while there is still light on the western horizon would literally be senseless! Thus, the Easter Vigil in Limerick Diocese should be held no earlier than 9pm this year. (Sunset on April 23rd 2011 is estimated at 20:39pm).

The Liturgy of Word looks at the journey of salvatin from Genesis right through and how the Lord has maintained his relationship of love with us through all things culminating in the singing the Alleluia and the great Gospel (literally Good News) of the Lords Resurrection.

The Blessing of Water is where we have the call to Baptism and the renewal of promises, the link in with the fact that at Easter around the world people are being accepted into the Church through baptism and confirmation and how Lent was traditionally seen as a period of prepartion for this great event in their lives, for us who are baptised as Children a reminder of how special it is when you see grown adults requesting it and how we need to nurture it, we are no longer Children as Paul reminds us and have a responsibility to develop and adult faith.

Some further reflections on Holy Week:

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