By Tony DeGol
Parishes are extending a warm welcome to the faithful and inviting parishioners to immerse themselves in the spiritual opportunities of Holy Week, and Bishop Mark will lead observances at both diocesan cathedrals.
Holy Week is the most solemn time on the Church calendar, beginning with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. On that day, the Church recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. At Mass, the Catholic faithful receive palm branches, which are blessed, and recall the Passion of the Lord. Bishop Mark will celebrate Mass on Palm Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown, which will be broadcast live on WATM ABC 23.
On Monday of Holy Week, the entire Diocesan Church of Altoona-Johnstown will come together for the Chrism Mass at 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona, with Bishop Mark as celebrant and homilist. During the Chrism Mass, the Bishop will bless the sacred oils used at parishes throughout the diocese in the coming year. Representatives from the parishes will then take the oils to their faith communities and present them on Holy Thursday. Priests of the Diocese will also renew their commitment to priestly service during the Chrism Mass.
The Sacred Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday, as Catholics gather for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The liturgy commemorates Jesus’ last meal with his disciples when He established Holy Communion and instituted the priesthood. During the Lord’s Last Supper, He washed the feet of his disciples – an act carried out at parishes on Holy Thursday as priests wash the feet of parishioners, mirroring Jesus’ command to serve others. After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at most parishes, the faithful are invited to spend quiet time in Adoration, just as the Lord’s disciples were asked to keep vigil with Christ. Bishop Mark will celebrate the Mass of Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown.
Good Friday is the one day of the year when the Mass is not celebrated in the Catholic Church. Faithful, rather, are invited to celebrate the Passion of the Lord, usually during an afternoon service, during which those in the pews may come forward to venerate the wood of the cross and receive Holy Communion. Bishop Mark will preside at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday at 1:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. Catholics are asked to observe a day of fasting and abstaining from meat on Good Friday.
Holy Saturday is a day of quiet waiting before the night of nights in the Catholic Church: the Easter Vigil, celebrating Jesus’ glorious victory over death. The Easter Vigil is divided into four parts – the service of light when the Easter fire is blessed and the pascal candle is lit; the Liturgy of the Word when the faithful listen to some of the best readings of the Church; Christian Initiation when the Church welcomes our brothers and sisters to full communion in the Church and the faithful renew their own Baptismal promises; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This year, vigil Masses may be celebrated not before 8:00 p.m. Bishop Mark will celebrate the Easter Vigil at 8:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona.
Easter Sunday is the beginning of the glorious 50-day Easter celebration in the Catholic Church, commemorating Christ’s victory over sin and death. Bishop Mark will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection at 11:00 a.m. at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown, which will be broadcast live on WATM ABC 23.