Welcome to Holy Week!  Today you will receive a blessed palm.  The palm branch has a double symbolism.  First, it commemorates Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem which inagurated the events we celebrate this week.  But, secondly, it also looks forward to Easter Sunday because the palm branch is a symbol of victory.  I encourage you to take your blessed palm home and place it behind the crucifix in your living room or bedroom. 

One thing which always makes me feel a little sad is that so many parishioners only come on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  They miss the most beautiful and most profound celebrations of the entire year.  On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Evening Mass of the Last Supper.  We remember that night when Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, "This is my Body which will be given up for you."  Likewise the wine became his Precious Blood.  At the Holy Thursday Mass we also reenact the moment when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles and we conclude the Mass with a procession to transfer the Blessed Sacrament to the side altar. 



On Good Friday we do not celebrate Mass as such, but have a service with three parts:  Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Holy Cross and Communion.  The service begins in silence with the priests and servers prostrating before the altar.  Then we read the great prophecy of the Suffering Servant who was "pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins."  It is followed by the Psalm which Jesus prayed from the cross, "Father into your hands, I commend my spirit."  Before reading the Passion according to St. John, we have a short section from the Letter to Hebrews: "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made  perfect, he became to the source of eternal salvation to all who believe in him."  The service includes extended General Intercessions in which we ask that Christ's Passion be applied to all people.  Then we have the opportunity to venerate the cross as a congregation and as individuals.  You will be invited foward to personally venerate the cross with a bow and a kiss.  The service concludes by the reception of Holy Communion.

The greatest liturgy of the entire year is the Easter Vigil.  It is sometimes called "the mother of all liturgies."  If you have never attended an Easter Vigil, I encourage you to do so this year.  It is longer than an ordinary Mass, but well worth the time.  The Vigil begins with a Service of Light, followed by Old Testament readings which foreshadow the Resurrection.  The Epistle and Gospel invite us to approach that central mystery of our faith.  Our elect will then receive the Easter Sacraments:  baptism, confirmation and - with the rest of the congregation - Eucharist.

The Holy Week schedule also indicates some additional activities for these days.  On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we will have Mass at 8:30 a.m.  Also Mass will be celebrated in Latin on Tuesday evening at 8:30 and on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. in English and 7 p.m. in Spanish.  On Good Friday morning you are invited to participate in the Prayer Vigil in which we will walk to Planned Parenthood, praying the rosary.  Jesus is suffering in his littlest ones - unborn children - who many people do not recognize as human persons.  Please consider joining this special prayer.  We will gather at 7 a.m. in front of the Ailbe House.  Also on Good Friday our school children will have a reenactment of the Way of the Cross on Friday morning.  On Holy Saturday our church will be open for Condolences to the Blessed Mother and for confessions.  You will find the schedule of times in another part of the bulletin.

I want to thank you for your donations last weekend to support seminarians of the Archdiocese.  As you know, we have the biggest group of seminarians in decades and this June, Archbishop Brunett will ordain seven men to the priesthood - the largest number in thirty-five years!  Your contributions will support seminarians through the Annual Catholic Appeal by enabling us to make up our shortfall from the past year. It was the first time we have fallen short in ten years.  Part of the reason was that the Appeal came on the heels of our parish Capital Campaign.  This year I am hoping we will not only make our goal, but exceed it in order to accomplish an urgent need within our parish. 

This weekend we are taking up the two-bit collection for Deanery Prison Ministry.  Like all parishes in the dioceses, we are called to support ministries to carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Your donations will help support the chaplains at King County Jail.  The Archdiocese of Seattle is divided into ten deaneries and Holy Family Parish is part of the South Seattle Deanery.  Our Deanery has particular responsibility for the King County Jail and for downtown hospitals.  The deanery also helps support Hispanic Ministry at St. Mary's and here at Holy Family.  On Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was arrested, we will have a basket for those who wish make a donation for Prison Ministry. 

I know that sometimes the variety of collections can be confusing.  Part of the reason for this is simply because we are Catholics, that is, we are members of Church that extends far beyond our congregation.  While we have many urgent needs right in our own parish, we cannot ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters.  At the same time, Holy Family benefits in many ways from the ministries of the Deanery and the Archdiocese. 

At the entrances of the church, you will find copies of the Divine Mercy Novena which goes from Good Friday to the Sunday after Easter.  Part of the Novena is the receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Fr. Ramon and I will be available for confessions on Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m.  I encourage you to take advantage of the great graces and blessing God wishes to pour upon you and your family during these wonderful days. 

******************************

¡Bienvenidos a la Semana Santa!  Hoy recibirán Vds una palma bendita. 
Tiene un doble significado:  conmemorar la entrada de Jesus a Jerusalen
y tambien su victoria sobre la muerte, el pecado y Satanás.  Les invito
poner su palma bendita detras del crucijo en su comedor o dormitorio. 
Favor de hacer todo posible para participar en los grandes
acontecimientos de esta semana.  En otra parte del boletin se
encontrarán un horario de todos los servicios.  En las entradas del
templo hay la Novena de la Divina Misericordia que comienza el Viernes
Santo y termina el Domingo después de la Pasca, Domingo de la Divina
Misericordia.  Una parte importante de la Novena es recibir el
Sacramento de la Reconciliacion.  Habrá confesiones Sabado de Gloria de
9 a 10 a.m. y 3 a 5 p.m.