Holy Week, The Triduum, and Easter

Palm Sunday
Holy Week, The Triduum and all celebrations of Easter are at the heart of the Christian life and are at the heart of yearly worship at St. Paul’s. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we as a parish follow in the footsteps of Christ as he enters Jerusalem in triumph, celebrates his last meal with his disciples and friends, suffers betrayal and abandonment, is tried and condemned to the cross, is crucified and buried and is raised from the dead. In this journey with Christ, we ourselves find our lives both honestly described and fully renewed.

Palm Sunday begins with the re-enactment of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with people carrying palms in procession, something we at St. Paul’s do by walking the block of our neighborhood together. This celebrative time quickly gives way to a reader’s theater enactment of the Passion Gospel and a Eucharist that ends with silence as people begin their Holy Week experience.

Maundy Thursday begins with a meal in the Parish Hall that gives the St. Paul’s community an experience of an intimate family gathering, the same tone that we believe Jesus and his disciples would have experienced in their last meal together. Parishioners then go upstairs to the Church for readings, a foot washing, and Communion followed by the stripping of the altar and Chancel area. This is followed by a time for meditation at the Altar of Repose in our Chapel where the Reserved Sacrament will stay throughout the night as parishioners keep Vigil there.

Good Friday includes readings and a sermon, the Veneration of a large wooden cross, and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament.

The Holy Saturday liturgy at St. Paul’s is a brief Saturday morning liturgy consisting of readings, prayers, and a homily.

Easter Vigil, which St. Paul’s offers at 5:00 AM on Easter Sunday morning, is the high point of the Christian Year. The liturgy begins in the dark with the lighting of the new fire, the procession of the new Paschal Candle and the chanting of the Exsultet, the hymn of victory of life over death. After a number of readings and psalms that take us through the Hebrew Scriptures and salvation history, we baptize new Christians and then hear the first Alleluia of Easter. We ring bells, bring the lights up and sing the Gloria in excelsis in response. Readings from the New Testament follow along with the sermon as well as the First Mass of Easter. Later in the morning, we offer a Second Mass of Easter as well.

Easter VIgil