Palm Sunday: Sunday of the Passion
Commemorating both Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his passion, this feast begins Holy Week and points us toward the events of Good Friday and Easter. All of these themes can be found in the morning service of Lauds, which includes antiphons of praise, hymns of the passion, and texts that point to our redemption through Christ’s death and resurrection. The liturgy of Holy Eucharist for this day begins with a “triumphant” procession accompanied by hymns of Hosannas, and then moves to a quieter meditation on Christ’s suffering, concluding with solemn reverence as Holy Week begins.
The Eucharist for Maundy Thursday (also called Holy Thursday) commemorates Jesus’s Last Supper with his disciples on the night before his death, and the institution of the Lord’s Supper also known as Holy Communion, Mass and the Holy Eucharist in different traditions. In this service we recall Christ’s command (Latin, mandatum, from which we derive the word Maundy) to love one another (John 13), and also remember his betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane and the beginning of his trial. At the conclusion of the liturgy, the Sacrament is solemnly take to the Chapel of Reservation, various elements in the church are removed, and the altar is veiled in white, indicating that, for a time, Christ is symbolically absent from our midst.
Good Friday: Hour of the Cross
Many different names are given to the ancient service commemorating Jesus dying on the cross. Following monastic tradition, this is a service of Gregorian chant that includes these elements: the sixth century hymn, Pange Lingua by Fortunatus; penitential psalms 22 and 69; lamentations from the prophet Jeremiah; responsories retelling the events of the day; and the ancient hymn, Christus Factus Est (Christ became obedient unto death)
Easter Sunday: Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Beginning with hymns and antiphons of light, alleluias and Easter joy, the fifty-day feast of Easter commences with the chants at Lauds. The entire Eucharistic liturgy that follows reflects the joyful news of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and our salvation. This feast is the pinnacle of the Christian liturgical year and is celebrated with procession, music, art, special liturgy and Gregorian chants that echo our joy that in Christ “death is swallowed up in victory!” By the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ , we receive new birth, new hope, and the gift of eternal life.