Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, is a time of solemn reflection, prayer, and anticipation, culminating in the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Catholics, this time in our Liturgical Calendar is a deeply spiritual journey, commemorating the final days of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, culmination in his crucifixion and resurrection, is marked by a series of profound traditions and rituals that have been passed down through generations.
Palm Sunday: A Prelude to Holy Week
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Catholic churches across Western Sydney transform into vibrant processions, with parishioners waving palm fronds symboling the branches waved by crowds welcoming Jesus, and bringing these home after they have been blessed.
The Chrism Mass
The Chrism Mass is one of the most significant liturgical events in the Church outside of Christmas and Easter, where we are reminded of our oneness in Christ through Baptism and its holy anointing, made possible by the ministry of the Archbishop and his priests. At this Mass, the Bishop is joined by every priest in the Diocese and blesses the oils that are going to be used in the sacraments in the year ahead. These are:
- Oil of the Sick
- Oil of Catechumens
- Sacred Chrism
Whenever the Holy Oils are used in a diocese, the ministry of the bishop who consecrated them is symbolically present.
Otherwise known as Maundy Thursday, on this day we commemorate the Last Supper, the final meal Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest. This evening is often marked by the Washing of the Feet ceremony, where priests around the Diocese wash the feet of 12 individuals, reenacting Jesus’ act of humility and service.
Good Friday: A Day of Solemnity and Remembrance
Good Friday is a day of profound reverence and mourning, marking the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Catholics will treat this as a day of fasting, only taking one full meal during the day and abstaining from meat. Opportunities to pray and/or watch the Stations of the Cross, where we reflect on of Jesus’ path to Calvary, are held during the day, and before Good Friday services usually begin at 3pm. These services usually include the Veneration of the Cross, an act of reverence for the instrument of Christ’s sacrifice.
Easter Saturday Vigil
The Easter Vigil, held on Saturday night, marks the transition from mourning to anticipation and light. The Easter Vigil Mass commences with the lighting of the Easter fire, which symbolises the light of Christ dispelling the darkness of sin. As the night progresses, Catholics join in the Easter Proclamation, a joyous declaration of Christ’s resurrection.
Easter Sunday is the culmination of Holy Week, a day of jubilation and renewal. Catholics attend Easter Mass, celebrating Christ’s victory over death and the promise of eternal life. The Easter Mass is a joyous occasion, filled with music, hymns, the exchanging of Easter greeting and in some parishes, an Easter egg hunt, which celebrates the new life and joy brought by Christ’s resurrection.
The observance of Holy Week and Easter in Western Sydney’s Catholic community is a testament to the enduring power of faith and tradition. It is a time for reflection, renewal, and celebration, deeply rooted in the spiritual heritage of the Catholic Church, while also reflecting the unique cultural tapestry of Western Sydney. We hope to see you at our Lenten events and Easter services.