The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Triduum: “The night Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.” The church empties the Holy Water from the fonts on the days of the Sacred Paschal Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. The Passion is read three times during Holy Week: Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The words of Jesus are always read by a priest.
On Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), the Pope performs a rare morning mass. “The Mass of the Chrism” is held in St. Peter’s Square when the oils are blessed and the Chrism is consecrated. Chrism is a combination of balsam and oil and is used for annointing for occasions like confirmation and ordinations.
In the evening after sun-down, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. This event includes a reading of Matthew’s account of the “Passion of Christ“; the narration of Jesus’ capture, suffering and death. It includes the representation of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his Disciples which was carried out by Pope Benedict at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran where he washed the feet of 12 priests http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngIUmGhwwqs.
On Good Friday, the day of Christ’s brutal crucufixion in AD 33, choirs sing St. John’s version of Christ’s crucifixion. Peter Paul Rubens’ “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) portrays Christ with his “Crown of Thorns” before his Crucifixion. After his crucifixion, he was covered with a shroud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dVQnkKlphY&feature=relmfu.
On this day in Catholic churches around the world, Christians glorify the cross in their individual parishes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubkiKyjo9WU. The cross is venerated as a symbol of our faith by kneeling in front of the cross and kissing it. In this way, we honor the Lord’s Cross as an instrument of our salvation. The cross was the means of Jesus Christ’s execution and as a sign of victory over sin and death. The church does not celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Good Friday, rather the Church commemorates the Lord’s Passion.
In Rome on Good Friday, a solemn “Via Crucis Procession” (The Way of the Cross) involves an evening torch-lit procession that follows the Pope as he traces the Stations of the Cross from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2qwjLTFcwQ. The church in Rome adopted the practice of “Adoration of the Cross” from the Church in Jerusalem where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross has been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fouth century http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8eDPyXYv50.
St. Helen, the mother of emperor Constantine, discovered this fragment of wood on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. Pope Alexander VII had the top of the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square adorned with his insignia. There is a relic of Christ’s “True Cross” encased in this emblem of Pope Alexander that crowns the Obelisk.
Jesus had 12 disciples. They were pupils or followers of Christ. The Passion of Christ was initiated when the Temple Guards, guided by Judas Iscario, captured Jesus. Judas was a Disciple of Jesus who betrayed him by telling the guards that whomever he kisses, they should arrest. Judas was paid in silver for his betrayal which is portrayed in “The Kiss of Judas.” The trial and painful crucifixion of Jesus ensued. Judas ended up returning the silver and committing suicide.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com