|Frequently Asked Questions Concerning, Holy Week, The Sacred Triduum, and the Easter Season|
Frequently asked Questions
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: March 20, 2016
On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) the Church enters upon the mystery of its crucified, buried, and risen Lord, who, by his entrance into Jerusalem, gave a glimpse of his own majesty. Christians carry branches as a sign of the royal triumph that Christ won by his acceptance of the cross. Saint Paul says: ‘Provided we suffer with him in order that we might be glorified with him,’ the link between these two aspects of the paschal mystery should stand out clearly in the liturgical celebration and catechesis of Palm Sunday (Ceremonial of Bishops, 263).
- On Palm (Passion) Sunday Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish the great events of our salvation, is recalled. The commemoration on this day, with the blessing and the procession of palm branches, is not just an historical re-enactment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, but marks the solemn entrance of the Church, the Body of Christ, into Holy Week.
1. What are the options for the beginning of the Palm Sunday liturgy?
- Three options are given in the Roman Missal for the beginning of Mass on Palm Sunday:
(1) The procession
(2) The solemn entrance (only at the principal Sunday Eucharist)
(3) The simple entrance
- Masses beginning with either the solemn entrance or the procession omit the Penitential Rite.
2. How should the Passion be proclaimed?
The passion narrative occupies a special place. It
should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is,
by three or four persons who take the parts of Christ,
the narrators and the people. The passion is proclaimed
by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter
case, the part of the Christ should be reserved to the
3. May crucifixes and statues be veiled during Holy Week?
Veiling or covering of statues and crucifixes is an optional practice in the dioceses of the United States of America. The Roman Missal (Third Edition) permits for crosses to be covered at the conclusion of the Saturday Weekday Mass of the Fourth week of Lent until the conclusion of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday; crosses remain uncovered following the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Sacred images (not crosses) remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Images are not unveiled during the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
The Mass of Chrism: MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016: Church of Saint Philip the Apostle, Clifton
4. When is the Mass of Chrism? Can anyone participate?
Presbyters are brought together and concelebrate this Mass as witnesses and cooperators with their bishop in the consecration of the chrism because they share in the sacred office of the bishop in building up, sanctifying, and ruling the people of God. This Mass is therefore a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continue to be present in the Church (Ceremonial of Bishops, 274).
The Christian Faithful of the local church of Paterson are welcome and encouraged to attend the Mass of Chrism. Every parish may send several representatives. Please announce the celebration of the Chrism in the weekly announcements leading up to the beginning of Holy Week.
- The Mass of Chrism will be celebrated on Monday, March 21, 2014 at the Church of Saint Philip the Apostle, Clifton, at 7:00 in the evening. Please note that vesting is in the Saint Philip the Apostle School Gymnasium and that the liturgical procession begins promptly at 6:45 in the evening and that vesture is alb worn with the diocesan vestments of chasuble and stole for priests and diocesan stole for deacons.
No other liturgies should be scheduled at this time so that the faithful are encouraged to take part in this significant celebration of the local church. Priests are strongly encouraged to concelebrate with Bishop Serratelli in this liturgy. The Mass of Chrism is an especially important moment for the presbyterate as we renew our priestly promises in the presence of the Bishop. Pastors are asked to personally designate at least several members from their parish to be present for this important liturgical celebration and to extend the invitation from the pulpit and in their parish bulletin to all parishioners.
5. Where do I collect the Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism?
The Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism may be collected by one priest, or other person designated by the pastor, at Saint Philip the Apostle School immediately following Mass.
6. What should be the disposition of last year’s Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism?
- The Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism should be respectfully disposed of by burning (Book of Blessings, 1127). Please do not bring the Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism to the Chrism Mass; oils from the previous year should be respectfully disposed of at the parish.
7. Can additional unblessed oil be added to the blessed Holy Oils and consecrated Chrism?
Additional Holy Oils and Sacred Chrism may be obtained through the Liturgy Office if a parish should run out of Holy Oil or Chrism. In case of necessity the oil of the sick may always be blessed by the priest within the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick (Code of Canon Law, c. 999, 2º; Roman Ritual: Ordo unctionis infirmorum, 21). Additional Oil and/or Chrism should not be added to the blessed and consecrated Oils or Chrism simply for the sake of display (cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 847 §1; Cf. USCCB Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter 30, August/September 1994).
The Beginning of the Sacred Triduum
The Beginning of the Sacred Triduum - Holy Thursday, The Mass of the Lord’s Supper: MARCH 24, 2016
This Mass is, first of all, the memorial of the institution of the eucharist that is of the memorial of the Lord’s Passover, by which under sacramental signs he perpetuated among us the New Law. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is also the memorial of the institution of the priesthood, by which Christ’s mission and sacrifice are perpetuated in the world. In addition this Mass is the memorial of that love which the Lord loved us even to death. The bishop should see to it that all these considerations are suitably presented to the faithful through the ministry of the word so that by their devotion that may be able to deepen their grasp of such great mysteries and reflect them more faithfully in the conduct of their lives (Ceremonial of Bishops, 297).
Careful attention should be given to the mysteries which are commemorated in this Mass: the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and Christ's command of brotherly love; the homily should explain these points. (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 45)
The tabernacle should be completely empty before the celebration. Hosts for the Communion of the faithful should be consecrated during that celebration. A sufficient amount of bread should be consecrated to provide also for Communion on the following day. (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 48)
8. When does Lent end and the Sacred Triduum begin?
- Lent ends with the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, at which time the Church enters into the Sacred Triduum. The Triduum concludes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.
9. Can a Funeral Mass be celebrated on Holy Thursday morning or on other days of the Triduum?
- A Mass of Christian Burial may not be celebrated on Holy Thursday morning or on any day of the Paschal Triduum (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 380-381; See also Order of Christian Funerals, 178, 271). However, a Liturgy of the Word may be celebrated in church, along with the Prayers of Final Commendation and Rite of Committal at the place of interment, entombment, or inurnment. The family of the deceased should be strongly encouraged to schedule a Memorial Mass for the deceased at a later time. A Mass celebrated for the deceased during the Octave of Easter could be an especially consoling celebration since it is rich with the hopeful message of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who has conquered sin and death.
10. Can First Holy Communion be celebrated at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper?
Apart from exceptional cases, it is not particularly appropriate for First Communion to be administered on Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper. Another day should be chosen instead, such as a Sunday between the Second and the Sixth Sunday of Easter, or the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or the Sundays of Ordinary Time, since Sunday is rightly regarded as the day of the Eucharist (Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, 87)
11. May the Precious Blood be reserved for distribution on Good Friday?
- Communion under both kinds is strongly recommended for the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
- It is not permitted for the Precious Blood to be reserved for the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, nor should it be made part of the Eucharistic Procession or Repository on Holy Thursday evening.
12. Is it permissible to celebrate an additional Mass of the Lord’s Supper?
- Please note that on Holy Thursday the only Mass permitted is the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. In the case of a genuine necessity, the Diocesan Bishop may permit a second Mass of the Lord’s Supper or a Mass in the morning for those who are unable to participate in the evening Mass. Permission for these Masses must be obtained through a letter personally addressed to Bishop Serratelli and should include the extraordinary circumstances that warrants this request.
13. Is it possible to have a procession at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the oils and chrism blessed and consecrated by Bishop Serratelli at the Mass of Chrism?
- It is appropriate that the Holy Oils blessed and the Sacred Chrism consecrated at the Chrism Mass be carried in at the Presentation of the Gifts at the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The proper rubrics & prayers for the presentation of the oils are found in the Sacramentary Supplement or see www.usccb.org/liturgy/holyoils.
14. Where should the Eucharist repose for adoration following Mass?
- Following the Prayer after Communion, the Most Blessed Eucharist is transferred to a place of repose. When the priest reaches the repository, the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the tabernacle and the Sacrament is reverenced with incense as the tabernacle door remains open; the door is then closed by the priest or deacon (Roman Missal, Third Edition, 39). This may be the tabernacle used for reservation if it is in a separate chapel or area removed from the sanctuary. The altar or place of repose should be simply decorated. The Blessed Sacrament is not to be exposed in a monstrance. The faithful should be encouraged to spend some time in adoration throughout the remainder of the evening until Midnight. After Midnight, there is no adoration that includes external solemnity (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 55 and 56). It is not permitted to reserve the Precious Blood for adoration on Holy Thursday and for distribution on Good Friday (USCCB 2001 Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the United States of America, 30).
- If the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion is not celebrated in the same church the next day then Mass concludes in the usual way and the Most Blessed Sacrament is placed in the tabernacle (Roman Missal, third edition, 44).
- Following Mass the altar is stripped. It is fitting that any crosses in the church be covered with a red or purple veil, if not already covered. Candles should not be lit before the images of Saints (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 57). Holy Water may be removed from the fonts at this time and replaced with the water solemnly blessed at the Easter Vigil.
Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion: MARCH 25, 2016
In contemplating the cross of its Lord and Bridegroom, the Church commemorates its own origin and its mission to extend to all peoples the blessed effects of Christ’s passion that it celebrates on this day in a spirit of thanksgiving for his marvelous gift (Ceremonial of Bishops, 312).
On this day, when ‘Christ our Passover was sacrificed’ the Church meditates on the Passion of her Lord and Spouse, venerates the Cross, commemorates her origin from the side of Christ on the Cross, and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 58).
On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist; Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the celebration of the Lord's Passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration (59).
Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting (60).
All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells (61).
It is recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people in the churches (62).
- The Liturgy of the Hours, particularly Morning Prayer, is encouraged among the faithful.
- The celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the principal celebration of this day, should take place at or about 3:00 in the afternoon. If pastoral need dictates, this celebration may take place later in the day.
- The part of Christ in the Passion is reserved to the priest celebrant. During the Veneration of the Cross, only one cross should be used. If the number of faithful is too great to permit individual veneration, other crosses may be used.
15. Should deacons lead the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday?
Deacons and Good Friday:
- Deacons are not permitted to lead the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion unless there is a serious shortage of priests; this condition does not exist in the Diocese of Paterson. The Triduum liturgies are a continuous celebration commemorating our redemption through the Blood of Christ. There is no formal liturgical dismissal after Holy Thursday’s evening Mass but rather a procession that moves us toward a night of watching and waiting with the Lord himself and then a prolonged reflection on and celebration of his saving passion and death. As the solemn Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion begins there is no greeting or welcome. The parish priest is the one who presides at this continuous celebration of the Pascal Triduum for the Christian faithful. Deacons should fulfill their proper role in all of the Triduum liturgies, including Good Friday; including assisting in the proclamation of the Passion, the introductions to the Intercessions, the Veneration of the Cross, and the distribution of Holy Communion. A deacon may preside at other devotions that may be celebrated on Good Friday such as the Stations of the Cross, or at the Liturgy of the Hours.
16. How does the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion conclude?
- After genuflecting to the Cross all of the ministers depart in silence (Roman Missal, third edition, 32). Following the celebration, the altar is stripped and the Cross remains on the altar between two or four candles (Roman Missal, Third Edition, 33).
Holy Saturday, THE EASTER VIGIL: MARCH 26, 2016
In accord with ancient tradition, this night is a night of vigil for the Lord, and as the memorial of the holy night of Christ’s resurrection, the Vigil celebrated is the ‘mother of all holy vigils.’ The Church this night awaits the Lord’s resurrection and celebrates it with the sacraments of Christian initiation (Ceremonial of Bishops, 332).
‘The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.’ This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. Reprehensible are those abuses and practices which have crept in many places in violation of this ruling, whereby the Easter Vigil is celebrated at the time of day that it is customary to celebrate anticipated Sunday Masses (Circular Letter on Holy Week, 78).
The order of the Easter Vigil is so arranged that after the service of light and the Easter Proclamation (which is the first part of the Vigil), Holy Church meditates on the wonderful works which the Lord God wrought for his people from the earliest times, (the second part or Liturgy of the Word), to the moment when, together with those new members reborn in Baptism (third part), she is called to the table prepared by the Lord for his Church, the commemoration of his death and resurrection, until he comes (fourth part) (81.)
This liturgical order must not be changed by anyone on his own initiative (81).
- The Liturgy of the Hours, particularly Morning Prayer, is encouraged among the faithful.
17. At what hour should the Easter Vigil begin?
- The Easter Vigil should begin at a time that allows for the Easter Fire to pierce the darkness of night with the Light of Christ who has destroyed sin and death. The Easter Vigil should not be celebrated at the time when anticipated Sunday Masses are customarily celebrated. Sunset on April 4, 2015 is 7:35 PM. Parishes in the Diocese of Paterson, the Easter Vigil may not be scheduled before 8:00 PM. Only one Easter Vigil may be celebrated in each parish of the Diocese of Paterson.
- The Exsultet (Easter Proclamation) should be sung by the Deacon, the Priest Celebrant or a Cantor. At least three of the seven Old Testament selections designated for the Easter Vigil in the Lectionary are to be proclaimed, including the proclamation of number three from the Book of Exodus (14:15-15:1). The Gloria is to be sung or at least recited. The Eucharist should be distributed under both kinds in this solemn vigil.
18. Who may receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Vigil?
- Adults (and children of catechetical age) receiving the Sacrament of Baptism or brought into full communion in the Church during the Vigil (RCIA, 481; 562-594) are to be confirmed by the Priest Celebrant (RCIA, 588). Those Catholics who have never been confirmed may also be confirmed at the Easter Vigil through concession of the diocesan bishop (Code of Canon Law, c. 882; National Statutes for the Catechumenate, 28-29).
- If for some serious reason they are not confirmed, they are to be confirmed on one of the Sundays of Easter between the Easter Vigil and Pentecost Sunday. Many parish RCIA processes include participants who are already Catholic but were never confirmed.
- Through the universal law of the Church, priests who hold pastoral office have the faculty to confirm: (1) when baptizing one who is seven years of age or older or receiving the validly baptized into the full communion of the Catholic Church, (2) readmitting to the Church a non-confirmed Catholic who apostatized from the faith, (3) when readmitting a baptized Catholic who without fault was instructed in and adhered to a non-Catholic religion.
In the event that a priest confirms a young child, serious consideration should be given to the young person’s continued formation in the faith through proper catechesis. If there is a doubt that this will continue, the question of whether or not the confirmation of the young person should be deferred until a later age so that the child is given the opportunity to take part in the normal parish preparation for the reception of Confirmation should be carefully considered.
19. Who has the faculty to confirm at the Easter Vigil and in the Easter Season?
- The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop (Code of Canon Law, c. 882) but at times priests have the faculty to confirm through the law itself or through concession (c. 882).
- The faculty to confirm those baptized as Roman Catholic is given to priests who are the principal celebrant, preferably the pastor, at the Easter Vigil Mass or in the Easter Season upon request of Bishop Serratelli in parishes of the Diocese of Paterson for persons age 7 or older who: (1) are already baptized Catholic or have previously been received into Full Communion of the Catholic Church, and (2) are now properly prepared and catechized by having participated in the parish’s RCIA or comparable process and (3) have not been previously confirmed. A notation should be made in the Confirmation Register of the Parish: “Special faculty granted by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, (Add the date of the mandate) (Code of Canon Law, c. 884 §2; 883, 2º).” If a priest other than the pastor is to be the priest is to be principal celebrant at the Easter Vigil or is to confirm these candidates in the Easter Season, this should be clearly noted in your request for the faculty to confirm.
- Through the law itself, a priest has the faculty to confirm one in danger of death (Code of Canon Law, c. 883, 3º), a priest who through office or mandate of the bishop baptizes one who is no longer an infant or admits one already baptized to full communion with the Catholic Church (c. 883, 2º; National Statutes for the Catechumenate, 18).
The Easter Season
The Solemnity of Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord, and the Easter Season
20. How long does the Easter Season last?
- The fifty days from Easter Sunday (March 27, 2015) to Pentecost (May 15, 2016), audibly and visually, are to be celebrated with joy and proper solemnity. The first eight days of the Easter Season are the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord and as Easter Day.
21. Can the Paschal Candle be artificial? How long does it remain lit for liturgies?
- The Paschal Candle must be made of wax, not be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size so that it may evoke Jesus Christ the Light of the world. The Paschal Candle is illumined for all liturgies during the Easter Season. It is preferable that the Paschal Candle be placed near the ambo so that the Gospel is proclaimed in the light of the Risen Christ.
22. Should a Rite of Sprinkling be used during the Easter Season?
- At all Masses on Easter Sunday, the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and its accompanying Sprinkling Rite take place following the Homily and in place of the Creed; an antiphon or song, baptismal in character, should be sung as the sprinkling of the people with the water, solemnly blessed during the Easter Vigil, takes place. During the Easter Season the Rite of Sprinkling takes place as part of the Introductory Rites and replaces the customary Penitential Rite.
- The Easter Sequence may be sung or recited during the Octave of Easter.
23. How long is “Alleluia” added to the dismissal?
- The Alleluia is added to the Dismissal Rite for Masses during the Octave of Easter and for Pentecost but not throughout the entire Easter Season.
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord: MAY 5, 2016
24. Is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord a holy day?
- The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is a holy day of obligation.
The Solemnity of Pentecost: MAY 5, 2016
25. When is the Paschal Candle returned to a less prominent place?
- The Sequence of Pentecost is sung or recited at all Masses except when the vigil readings are used. After Pentecost, the Paschal Candle may be returned to a less prominent place, but always placed near the Baptismal Font.