Updated: May 23
A Journey Through Holy Week: Honoring the Passion of Christ
As the season of Lent reaches its climactic end, the Church enters Holy Week, a period dedicated to the solemn commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This week, the final stretch before the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday, encompasses a powerful blend of emotions, rituals, and teachings, helping us to deeply reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, marking Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As recounted in the Gospels, Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, greeted by crowds waving palm branches and heralding him as the Messiah. Churches often distribute palm crosses on this day, a tangible reminder of Jesus’ arrival and a stark symbol of the fate that awaited him.
The narrative of Holy Week then takes us to Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday. This day commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus shared his final meal with his disciples. During this meal, He instituted the Eucharist and demonstrated an act of humble service, washing the feet of his disciples. 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin word 'mandatum,' meaning 'commandment,' in reference to the new commandment of love Jesus shared on this day.
The following day, Good Friday, is one of the most solemn days of the Christian calendar. It honors the Crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. Churches often hold special services which may include the reading of the Passion narrative, the veneration of the cross, and a period of silent reflection on the profound sacrifice made by Jesus.
After Good Friday comes Holy Saturday, a day of waiting and anticipation for the Resurrection. This is the final day of the Triduum, the three-day period beginning with the evening of Maundy Thursday and ending with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.
Prior to the liturgical reforms in 1969, Holy Week formed the second part of a two-week-long period known as Passiontide. However, in the current liturgical calendar, the term Passiontide has become synonymous with Holy Week, emphasizing the intense focus on the Passion of Christ during these days.
Holy Week invites us into a profound journey, retracing the steps of Jesus during the final days before His Resurrection. It is a week of prayer, reflection, and reverence, urging us to meditate on the depth of Christ's love and the immense sacrifice He made for humanity. As we transition from the solemnity of Holy Week to the joy of Easter, we are reminded of the transformative power of God's love, encapsulated in the journey from death to new life.