Wednesday, 20 April 2011
The excitement of Holy Week in the parish
I think I enjoy Holy Week more with each passing year. I'm quite familiar with the Novus Ordo ceremonies which we have for Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, and becoming more accustomed to the usus antiquior ceremonies that we have for the Maundy Thursday Mass (and for one of our Palm Sunday Masses.) Being able to worry less about the rubrics means that I have a little less distraction during the celebration of Mass.
The Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week, we have mass in both forms each day. Our English Mass is at the customary time of 10am. On Monday we had an evening Low Mass, yesterday a Missa Cantata with the sung Passion of St Luke, and today an early Mass at 7am. While there is not a massive attendance at any of these Masses, it is lovely to see so many children and young people making the effort to come.
My policy in Holy Week is "confessions after everything" which gives people a number of opportunities to celebrate the sacrament without being tied to one Penance Service. I also worry that the Penance Service could be misinterpreted as though it were not important to go to confession regularly at other times. We have already had quite a few confessions during the week and there will probably be a good number of confessions tomorrow and on Good Friday.
In the morning of Good Friday, we have two sets of Stations of the Cross. The first is especially for young children: we use something like the St Joseph Picture Book stations, though I have edited them a bit. The children can bring along a cross that they have made, to carry as we walk round the stations: often Dad helps out with this - which is a good way of getting fathers involved. We have the versicle and response at the beginning of each station, and the St Alphonsus act of contrition at the end, so the children get to learn those prayers. Afterwards we have the traditional St Alphonsus Stations.
Sadly we don't have an adult baptism at the Easter Vigil this year but we do have a baby to be baptised on Easter Sunday. I feel very fortunate to have a parish with so many enthusiastic young families. I think that Holy Week helps the faith of children and young people significantly with all of the dramatic elements that only happen once a year. They seem to be excited and eager to celebrate these momentous days, and that can only help the rest of us.