Holy Week, the Easter Triduum 2014

16 Apr 2014

holy week banner

During Holy week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his life here on earth, beginning with his messianic entrance into Jerusalem. The Lenten season lasts until Thursday of this week. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Pope Francis and Holy Week 

pope profile

You can follow Pope Francis’ schedule and read all associated homilies and texts on a special feature on the Vatican website for Holy Week. Click here to access the feature.

Broadcast of Services for Holy Week, the Easter Triduum 

– Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Father Tom Ryan celebrates Mass in the RTÉ studios, in Donnybrook with parishioners from St Senan’s Parish, Shannon, County Clare. Karen Barrett will direct the Shannon Gospel Choir. This is a live simulcast on RTÉ One TV & Radio 1xtra / LW 252/Digital Platforms from 7.00 – 8.00pm.

– Good Friday and Holy Saturday Services 

The Diocese of Limerick will host this year’s live broadcast by RTÉ of the Good Friday and Holy Saturday services on Friday 18 April and Saturday 19 April from Saint John’s Cathedral in Limerick on RTÉ television and radio.

Looking ahead to the Easter celebrations, Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick said: “We are delighted to have RTÉ here to broadcast our celebrations. It’s a privilege for any community and all the more so because of Limerick’s status as the City of Culture 2014. Each liturgy is, in a sense, a cultural event. The televising from Limerick of the Easter celebrations is great opportunity to highlight the role of Christ and the Church in Limerick culture.  We are issuing an open invitation to people to attend from across the diocese to come and join us for these services.”

The broadcasts will begin with the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 2.55pm. This service will include the presentation of the ‘Garment of Suffering’ – a patchwork quilt made up of squares of cloth from parishes across the diocese, carrying a symbol of suffering from each of them.  It will be presented during the Good Friday service and draped around the Cross to symbolise how local suffering is united to the suffering of Christ. The Church of Ireland Bishop of the United Dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe, Bishop Trevor Williams, will participate in the Good Friday commemoration. Music will be from the Diocesan Youth Choir under the direction of Lorna Byrne. This will be simulcast on RTÉ One Television and RTÉ Radio 1 LW 252/ 1xtra/Digital Platforms. The broadcast will conclude at 4pm.

On Holy Saturday RTÉ will broadcast the Solemn celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass beginning at 11pm. The Mass will be representatives from parishes across the diocese coming together with celebrant Bishop Brendan Leahy. This Mass will be the first occasion when a new Mass setting composed especially for the Diocese to mark Limerick’s designation as the National City of Culture by Glenstal monk Fr Columba McCann, OSB, will be performed. Music is from the Saint John’s Cathedral Choir under the direction of Bernadette Kiely. The Mass will be simulcast on RTÉ One Television and RTÉ Radio One LW 252/ Digital Platforms. The broadcast will conclude at 12.30am.

– Easter Sunday 

RTÉ One Television will broadcast the Mass for Easter Sunday morning from 9.10am – 11.30am on Sunday 20 April, celebrated by Pope Francis and immediately followed by his Urbi et Orbi message, with commentary from Father Thomas McCarthy OP.

Mass for Easter Sunday will be broadcast from Saint Mary’s Church, Navan, Co. Meath. The celebrant is Father Declan Hurley (tbc) with music from Saint Mary’s Parish Choir under the direction of Gabrielle Harte. The organist is Anne Mary Foley. Broadcast details: RTÉ Radio One LW252 / 1Xtra/DAB only.)

Aifreann an Domhnaigh: Aifreann Dhomhnach Cásca ó Shéipéal Réalt na Mara i Leitir Mealláin i gCeantar na nOileán, Conamara. Easter Sunday Mass broadcast from Queen of the Sea Parish in Leitir Mealláin, Co. Galway.)  RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta 1100-1145.            

Events and services in Irish dioceses for Holy Week and Easter 

  • Ballintubber Abbey in the Archdiocese of Tuam, celebrates the 26th Anniversary of the Passion Play this year. For the past Twenty Five years those who have witnessed this moving drama have been stirred by the story as it is portrayed by the people of Ballintubber. Many have come back year after year to experience it and have brought others with them. The dates of the Passion Play are Monday 14, Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 April at 9.00pm. (As it takes place outdoors we would advise you to bring suitable clothing.)
  • Achonry Diocese Chrism Mass will take place on Holy Thursday at 11.00am in the Cathedral of Annunciation & St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen.
  • The Diocese of Cork and Ross Chrism Mass will take place on Thursday 17 April at 10.00am in the Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Anne.
  • The Mass of Chrism will be celebrated in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry on Holy Thursday, 17th April 2014 at 10.00am. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Donal McKeown and priests from across the diocese will renew the vows they made on their ordination day.
  • The Good Friday Procession with the Cross will begin at Christchurch Cathedral  with a short Service of Prayer at 7.15pm followed by procession through the streets of Dublin with the Cross carried by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Michael Jackson. It will conclude with prayer around the Cross in the Pro-Cathedral – with the music of Taizé.
  • The Diocese of Galway will host an evening of quiet prayer, reflection and music around the cross beginning with the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at 8.00pm.
  • The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin is hosting an Easter Food blessing, a great tradition especially for our Polish community,  in nine churches around the diocese on Holy Saturday. Click here for details of the churches taking part.

Additional details of events and services in Irish dioceses for Holy Week and Easter can be found on diocesan websites. You can find a list of dioceses here.

Holy Week

The Chrism Mass

‘This Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his college of presbyters and at which he consecrates the holy chrism and blesses the other oils, manifests the communion of presbyters with their bishop.

The holy chrism consecrated by the bishop is used to anoint the newly baptised, to seal the candidates for confirmation, and to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at their ordination, as well as in rites of anointing pertaining to the dedication of churches and altars. The oil of catechumens is used in the preparation of the catechumens for their baptism. The oil of the sick is used to bring somfort and support to the sick.

– Chrism Mass homilies

Pope Francis:  “All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world: it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus, the one Good Shepherd who, with deep compassion for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd, wants to associate many others to his ministry, so as himself to remain with us and to work, in the person of his priests, for the good of his people.

“On this Holy Thursday, I ask the Lord Jesus to enable many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.”

Click here to read the text of Pope Francis’ Chrism Mass homily.

Archbishop Charles J Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland:  “Let us also tonight thank God for the gift of the priesthood, for the men who have been called by Christ to serve the Church as priests … At times, it is not easy for them. And so, for your witness of faithfulness, you, the priests … have our sincere gratitude”

Click here for full text of Archbishop Brown’s Chrism Mass homily.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “Those of you who have come this morning as representatives of your individual parishes to celebrate this diocesan occasion are daily witnesses to the goodness, the generosity and sincerity of your priests.  We have great priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin.   I know that many priests and people feel hurt by a cartoon in yesterday’s Irish Times.  I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and of the vital role of satire in social criticism, but I object to anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some. We have great priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin.”

Click here for full text of Archbishop Martin’s homily.

Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam: “Today we minister in a fractured world and at times do so as men who are ourselves disillusioned and disheartened. We endeavour to hear the silent cry of our people, share their distress, bring comfort and dignity to the deprived. The message of the bible is that civilisations survive not by strength but by how they respond to the weak; not by wealth but by how they care for the poor; not by power but by their concern for the powerless.”

Click here for full text of Archbishop Neary’s Chrism Mass homily.

The Easter Triduum 

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday

last supper

With this Mass, celebrated in the evening of the Thursday in Holy week, the Church begins the sacred Easter Triduum and devotes itself to the remembrance of the Last Supper. At this supper on the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus, loving those who were his own in the world even to the end, offered his body and blood to eat and drink, then enjoined the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to offer them in turn.

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 sacrifice of 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 by which the Lord loved us even to death.

(Ceremonial of Bishops, 298)

Click here for a video reflection by Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on Holy Thursday.

Good Friday – Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

good friday

‘On this day, when “Christ our paschal lamb was sacrificed”, what had long been promised in signs and figures was at last revealed and brought to fulfilment. The true lamb replaced the symbolic lamb, and the many offerings of the past gave way to the single sacrifice of Christ.

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord. he achieved his task of redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to God, principally by the paschal mystery of his blessed Passion, resurrection from the dead and glorious ascension, whereby dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life (Preface of Easter). For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the Cross that there came forth the sublime sacrament of the whole Church.

In contemplating the Cross of its Lord and Bridegroom, the Church commemorates its own origin and its mission to extend to all people the blessed effects of Christ’s Passion that it celebrates on this day in a spirit of thanksgiving for his marvellous gift.’

(Ceremonial of Bishops, 312)

Click here for a video reflection by Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on Good Friday.

– Day of Penance

Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting. 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 tolling of bells.

– Veneration of the Cross

After each sung invitation and response, the celebrant holds the raised cross for a period of respectful silence. The Cross is then presented to each of the faithful individually for their veneration, since the personal veneration of the cross is a most important feature in this celebration. Only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite. After the celebration, an appropriate place (for example, the chapel of repose used for reservation of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday) can be prepared, and there the Lord’s Cross is placed with four candles, so that faithful may venerate and kiss it and spend some time in meditation.

Holy Saturday 

easter vigil

On Holy Saturday the Church is as it were at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his Passion and death, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

– The Easter Vigil

This is the night when the Church keeps vigil, waiting for the resurrection of the Lord, and celebrates the sacraments of Christian Initiation. The Passover Vigil, in which the Hebrews kept watch for the Lord’s passover which was to free them from slavery to Pharaoh, prefigured the true Pasch of Christ that was to come. For the resurrection of Christ, in which he ‘broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave’, is the foundation of our faith and hope, and through Baptism and Confirmation we are inserted into the paschal mystery of Christ, dying, buried and raised with him, and with him we shall also reign.

The full meaning of this Vigil is a waiting for the coming of the Lord.

Click here for a video reflection by Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on the Easter Vigil.

– The Paschal Candle

The Paschal Candle, for effective symbolism must be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed every year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size so that it may evoke the truth – that Christ is the light of the world. The Paschal Candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass or at Morning and Evening Prayer.

After the Easter season, the Candle should be kept with honour in the baptistery and it should not otherwise be lit or placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.

– Baptismal Promises  

The Sunday assembly commits us in an inner renewal of our baptismal promises, which are in a sense implicit in the recitation of the Creed and are an explicit of the liturgy of the Easter Vigil and whenever Baptism is celebrated during Mass. In this context, the proclamation of the Word in the Sunday Eucharist celebration takes in the solemn tone found in the Old Testament at moments when the covenant was renewed, when the law was proclaimed and the community of Israel was called – like the people in the desert at the foot of Mount Sinai (see Exod 19:7-8 24:3-7) – to repeat its ‘yes’, renewing its decision to be faithful to God and to obey his commandments. In speaking his word, God awaits our response: a response which Christ has already made for us with is ‘Amen’ and which echoes in us through the Holly Spirit so that what we hear may involve us at the deepest level (Dies Domini, 41)

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord


‘Christ is risen, alleluia!’ This is the ancient Christian greeting on this day of great joy and happiness for all. ‘Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts”. The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him’ (CCC, 1169).

Dawn Masses for Easter Sunday

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For details of Dawn Masses for Easter Sunday please click here.