During the week beginning on Palm Sunday, April 1, liturgical churches all over the world will celebrate Holy Week.
Holy Week is the liturgical reenactment of Christ’s life that takes us from the triumphal day Jesus entered Jerusalem for the great Passover Feast (Palm Sunday), to the Last Supper with his disciples and subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Maundy Thursday, April 5), to his trial and brutal crucifixion on Good Friday (April 6), into the darkness of a Godless world that is transformed into the brilliant light of the Resurrection (The Great Vigil of Easter, Saturday, April 7), and the magnificent celebration of Easter Day (Sunday, April 8).
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd., invites the public to share with them in this dramatic walk with Christ during their special Holy Week services.
On Palm Sunday, the 10 a.m. service will begin outside with the blessing of the palms and a grand procession into the church with triumphant music that culminates with the singing of the hymn “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” The service poignantly relays the great contrast of triumph and sadness as the congregation participates in the reading of the Passion Gospel, the account of Christ’s crucifixion.
On Maundy Thursday, the 6 p.m. Eucharistic service celebrates the love of Christ as he washes his disciples’ feet and shares the Last Supper with them, offering himself up through his body and blood for their sins. The service concludes on a somber note, as the congregation watches as the altar and worship space is completely stripped of all symbols of the presence of Christ. This is to remind us that when Christ was crucified, our world was completely void of God’s presence and love. The congregation leaves the darkened church in reverent silence.
The entrance of the parish hall will be designated as a place of prayer as members of the church go there to pray throughout the night. This is symbolic of Jesus’ request to his disciples to stay with him and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday, April 6, commemorates the day of Christ’s crucifixion. At 5:15 p.m., a special music offering will be given by violinist Heidi Tanner, flutist Jessica Peterson, and pianist/organist Sally Neel. This 45-minute musical presentation of Bach, Handel, Loeillet and Franck will set the stage for the simple, yet profound service of meditation at 6 p.m. as we contemplate the immense sacrifice Christ endured for the sake of humankind.
On Holy Saturday, the emptiness of the world devoid of God’s love and presence is felt until, at 7:30 p.m., the Great Vigil of Easter begins. The service begins in total darkness with the procession of the large Paschal candle representing the Light of Christ reentering the world. From that candle other candles are lighted throughout the congregation representing God’s love spread throughout the world. Lessons are then read from the Old Testament reminding us of the many acts of God’s salvation to the Hebrews over the course of their history culminating in our ultimate salvation of all humankind through Christ’s death and resurrection. The service continues with the ringing of bells, which the congregation brings from home, as the priest proclaims, “Alleluia, the Lord is Risen!” and the congregation responds, “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!” The Easter celebration begins and the church comes into full light, adorned in Easter lilies, beautiful banners and symbols of Christ’s presence among us through his resurrection.
On Easter Day, the 10 a.m. service pulls out all the stops, rejoicing with beautiful music provided by the St. Patrick’s Choir accompanied by instrumentalists Bill and Sue Gottschalk, Jessica Peterson, Heidi Tanner and Sally Neel. Come early, as the church will be filled with worshippers rejoicing in the power of Christ’s resurrection.
The public is invited to attend all of these Holy Week services.
For more information, call 731-5801 or go to stpatrickspagosa.org.