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Holy Thursday

The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated at the most suitable evening hour. There may be a liturgy on Thursday morning only “for those who are in no way able to take part in the evening Mass.” Thus the ideal is a single Holy Thursday Mass in a parish, and only the inability of space to accommodate those who wish to attend should suggest the possibility of a second Mass. The private offering of any Mass is strictly forbidden.

The washing of feet or mandatum is the norm for all parishes. This rite should be characterized by its simplicity, allowing the powerful gesture of the servant Christ to model for us the charity and humility required of all Christ’s disciples. Parish staffs should strive to carry out the mandatum reverently and graciously and should avoid other rites and statements of commitment, which are inappropriate at the liturgy of Holy Thursday. Concelebration is, however, entirely appropriate, so that every ordained priest may celebrate the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. The renewal of priestly commitment from the Chrism Mass is not to be used at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, nor should there be any attempt to imitate the Jewish Seder on Holy Thursday.

The Sacramentary Missal instructs that the collection of gifts and money today be for the poor.

The tabernacle should be empty before the liturgy today. Enough hosts should be consecrated at this Mass for Communion today and tomorrow. Though Holy Communion may be brought to the sick today, Communion may be distributed at the church itself only within the Mass.

Following the Prayer after Communion, the Holy Eucharist is transferred to the place of reposition. This may be the usual tabernacle if it is in an area removed from the altar, but a space separated from the central part of the church is preferred (Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts, Congregation for Divine Worship, 1988, #49). 

The rite for this procession is described in the Sacramentary/Missal.                                                                                                                                                                       
“The faithful should be encouraged to continue adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable period of time during the night, according to local circumstances, but there should be no solemn adoration after midnight” (Sacramentary/Missal). The nature of the Triduum before the Easter Vigil is that of prayer and vigil. The faithful are encouraged to keep the paschal fast and to engage in private and communal prayer, carrying over into their homes the spirit of these sacred days.

After Mass, the altar is stripped. It is fitting that any crosses in the church be  covered with a red or purple veil. Votive candles should not be lit before the images of saints (Circular Letter, #57).

Good Friday

The celebration of the Lord’s Passion should take place about 3:00 PM but for pastoral reasons may be at a later hour or as early as 12 noon.  The service may be repeated only when the number wishing to attend would be too large for the church. The parish priest is the appropriate minister for this solemn liturgy.The liturgy for Good Friday makes no provision for any form of concelebration, since it is not Mass. Assisting ministers, however, including priests, may be vested.

Communion is distributed only within the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion but may be taken to the sick at any time of the day.

A collection is taken today for those pastoral,  charitable,educational and social works that the church supports in the Holy Land for the welfare  of Christians  and local communities as well as the upkeep of the holy places. This collection may best be taken through a basket placed near the entrance, because the liturgy itself has no collection. Proceeds are to be forwarded to the Financial Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago by June 6, 2011.

The readings are to be read in their entirety. The Passion according to John is not to be replaced by other Passion narratives, nor should it be turned into a dramatization that distorts the message of John’s narrative. The homily should not overlook the positive thrust of John’s gospel in portraying Christ as victor and Lord.

The general intercessions are to follow the wording and form handed down by ancient tradition, maintaining the full range of intentions, so as to signify clearly the universal effect of the passion of Christ, who hung on the cross for the salvation of the whole world (Circular Letter, #67).

The veneration of the cross is most effective when only one cross is used. Music during the veneration can reflect the spirit of the antiphons provided in the ritual: “We worship you, Lord, we venerate your cross, we praise your resurrection. Through the cross you brought joy to the world” (Sacramentary/Missal).

Though parishes may plan other services during the day and evening of Good Friday, it should be clear from the announcement of the schedule and from the care taken for the liturgy that the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion has priority.

Holy Saturday

Holy Communion may be given on this day only as viaticum. Communion visits to the sick are best done earlier in the week and on Easter.

There is strong encouragement that the fasting prescribed for Friday  continue voluntarily through Saturday until the Vigil.

Easter Vigil

“The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night.  It should not  begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday” (Sacramentary/Missal). In 2011, sunset on April 23,  in Chicago will occur at 7:40 PM, CDT. The Easter Vigil therefore should not begin before 8:00 PM.

The Easter Vigil is the only liturgy that may be celebrated this night.  All other  Easter Masses are to be celebrated on Sunday morning or afternoon. The  paschal candle should be worthy in size and beauty befitting its role in the liturgy this night, throughout the Easter season, and at the celebration of baptism and burial throughout the year.  Candles that are metal or plastic forms refilled by smaller candles are inconsistent with the candle’s symbolic role.

The reading of the Word of God is,  in the words of the Sacramentary/Missal,“the fundamental element of the Easter Vigil.” Though the number of readings from the Old Testament may be reduced, this is discouraged. The readings and the Psalms should be given the greatest care in preparation and execution.

The tabernacle is empty for the Vigil. All hosts for Holy Communion are to be consecrated at the Vigil. Communion under both kinds is the norm.

The Triduum is concluded liturgically with Vespers on Easter evening. (Also known as Paschal or Baptismal Vespers). You will find a model for Paschal Vespers in "Christ Our Light Praying the Triduum" from WLP.