"Put simply, the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum are the point in Christian ritual practice where the readiness of Christian faith to face human suffering squarely, and to find God working in and through suffering, is simultaneously most in evidence and most easily obscured...the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum enact the assembly's participation in the paschal mystery of Christ through a structure in which the resurrection is celebrated not as a moment "after" suffering and separate from it, but as a mystery born in and of suffering." (from This is the Night: Suffering, Salvation and the Liturgies of Holy Week", James W. Farwell, p. 7)
I wonder what part of Holy Week is your favorite?
I wonder what part of Holy Week you think is most important?
I wonder where you are in the story of Holy Week?
I wonder what we could leave out, and still have everything we need?
The Paschal Mystery
Hebrew: Pesach (Passover)
Latin: Passio (Suffering) and Transitus (Passage/Movement)
The Paschal Mystery celebrates the passage [of Jesus] through suffering and death into new life.
Earliest pattern (Acts of Apostles)
Daily gatheringsto celebrate Eucharist in homes
"2nd Generation" practice
Weekly gatherings to celebrate Eucharist on "the first day of the week" (distinct from sabbath)
Annual celebration of the "paschal mystery" (the indivisible mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ) in a single, unitive "paschal vigil" with prayers and readings through the night, and baptisms and Eucharist at daybreak
"Holy Week" observance develops, with a week-long set of observances and elaborate liturgies
"Egeria's Travels" are a pilgrim's description of Holy Week practices in 4th Century Jerusalem, beginning on the Sunday before Easter, and continuing through Easter Day
Key: Experience the week as an "indivisible mystery"--not a series of distinct events, but rather a single, seamless whole
The Liturgies of Holy Week
Sunday (Palm/Passion Sunday) Focus: Jesus' Final Entry into Jerusalem AND Jesus' Passion (suffering & death)
4th Century Jerusalem
Procession with Palm Branches, Psalm 118 and antiphon "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
During Reformation (1500's)
Blessing of Palms & Processions were abandoned
1928 Book of Common Prayer
Made provision for restoration of palm blessings & processions
Liturgy of the Palms (Normally outside the church)
Anthem (Luke 19:38), Collect, Gospel of Palms, Blessing of Palms, Anthem (Matt 21:9), Procession (Psalm 118), Collect at the Door/Entrance of the Church (Collect for Monday of Holy Week/Collect for Fridays in Morning Prayer)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Liturgy of the Word (including The Passion Gospel from Matthew, Mark, or Luke)
Provision made for Dramatic or Participatory readings of the Passion
All night "watch" or prayer vigil following Maundy Thursday service (recalling Jesus call to his disciples to "watch and pray" with him in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest.)
Shift from observation to participation:"No longer observers and responders in a third person relation with Jesus, those gathered for this liturgy are now called to imitate Jesus." (Farwell, 55)
Friday (Good Friday) Focus: Crucifixion
"At this point...a congregation that has, over the course of two days, taken on Jesus' own high priestly ministry in the world now faces the ultimate symbol of servant ministry: the mystery of God's presence to the world at the very place we most fear, the place of loss, suffering, and death." (Farwell, p. 60)
"Solemn Collects" (3rd-4th century, Rome)
Format: Deacon bids prayers; silence; Presider sums up the prayer with a "collect"