Holy Week Liturgies

In my years as a priest I have had the opportunity to celebrate Holy Week in a variety of circumstances. In 1972 together with newly ordained classmates I had the great privilege of being in the Holy Land where we followed the footsteps of Jesus during his final week. Since then I have been in as diverse circumstances as the Lummi Indian Reservation, a tiny village in the Andes Mountains of Peru and various parishes of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Here at Holy Family our celebration is unique because of the rich multi-cultural nature of our parish.

Today on Palm Sunday we each receive a blessed palm branch. It represents not only the beginning of Jesus' Passion but looks forward to his ultimate triumph on Easter Sunday. I encourage you to place the palm branch in a visible spot in your home. It is most appropriately put behind a crucifix or some other sacred image. Together with the cross it reminds us of the central aspects of the Pascal Mystery: the death and resurrection of our Lord.

I encourage you to make every effort to attend the three greatest liturgies of the year: the Mass of the Last Supper, the Celebration of Our Lord's Passion and the Easter Vigil. The Mass of the Last Supper will begin 7 p.m. (right after the soup & salad supper) and will include the traditional Washing of the Feet of those who represent the Twelve Apostles. At the conclusion we will have the Transfer of the Holy Eucharist and adoration until midnight.

On Good Friday the English language service begins at 6 p.m. It is not a Mass, but rather a three part ceremony involving the reading of the Passion According to St. John, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. The Celebration of the Lord's Passion is by nature the most stark ritual of the entire liturgical year.

The mood changes dramatically on Holy Saturday evening as we celebrate what is sometimes referred to as the "Mother of All Liturgies." It is the Easter Vigil which begins with the beautiful Service of Light: the blessing of the Easter Fire, the lighting of individual candles and the Easter Proclamation. At the Easter Vigil a number of adults and older children will be baptized, confirmed and receive their first communion. The rest of us will be invited to accompany them by making our own renunciation of sin and profession of faith. We will be sprinkled with holy water which renews our own initiation into Christ.

Again please make every effort to attend these wonderful ceremonies of Holy Week. May God bless you all during this greatest week of the year.

Fr. Phil Bloom
March 28, 1999