Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Hosanna to the Son of David – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Today commemorates our Divine Savior’s kingly entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem and the accomplishment of our Heavenly Father’s will. God has sought out this sinful human race and bluntly tells us: “This is how much I love you: I am willing to sacrifice My own Son for your salvation.” What more, dear people, could convince us? Thus so meekly we raise our blessed palms to honor and praise our Victorious King. This action on our part is our pledge to remain faithful to Christ even unto death. How many of our fellow Christians elsewhere in the world, the Middle East and Africa, may not have palms to raise, but indeed are being faithful to Christ in the midst of terror, torture and deprivation? May we be one with them.
Palm / Passion Sunday begins the week of “Pass-overs” – our Lord’s and our own. Everything we do by the way of liturgy and prayer effects our oneness with the Lord. Following are the days we call holy because they make us holy when we participate in them:
On Tuesday, March 31, Bishop Bambera summons his priests to join him in the consecration of the new Sacred Oils used in Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick. The Chrism Mass is celebrated at 4:00 PM in our Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton, and all the faithful of the diocese are welcome and encouraged to participate and to pledge their support of the priests as they renew their priestly vows during this Mass.
The Passion of Our Lord dominates these high holy days – The Sacred Triduum (three days) begins Holy Thursday with Morning Prayer at 7:25 AM. On Holy Thursday evening at 7:00 PM we will have the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. John’s Church, wherein we commemorate Our Lord’s institution of the Holy Eucharist; the New Priesthood of the New Covenant; and the Mandatum: to love one another as Jesus loves us as evidence by His washing the feet of His disciples.
Good Friday begins with Morning Prayer at 7:25 AM. The Way of the Cross will be held at 9:00 AM in St. Mary Magdalen Church, followed by the blessing with the relic of the True Cross on which Our Savior died. The celebration of the Passion begins at noon at St. John’s. We go in heart and mind to Calvary that we may be cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb; at 3:00 PM we begin the Novena and Chaplet of Divine Mercy which culminates on the octave of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Good Friday evening at 7:00 PM in St. John’s we chant the most ancient and hauntingly beautiful dirges of the burial of Christ in the Office of Tenebrae.
On Holy Saturday we greatly and prayerfully prepare for the great and glorious Vigil of Easter, beginning at 8:00 PM in St. John’s Church. During this night of nights we recall the history of our salvation and renew all things in Christ Resurrected. These are the days most important in the spiritual life of each one of us. Let us, therefore, make every effort to be with our Lord and be filled with the graces that come from celebrating these holy days.