Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday with the Lord’s Passion. The commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem is celebrated with a solemn procession. The palms or branches are blessed and should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ.
Monday in Holy Week
Our attention if now focused on the great mystery of Christ’s dying and rising. The sense of impending doom hovers over the actions of Jesus. Like a lamb led to slaughter, Christ does not cry out or shout aloud. Mary’s anointing becomes one of preparation of the body for burial after death. All things are being readied for the final hour.
The chrism is prepared for blessing by the bishop this week: it will be used to sign new Christians with the Cross, to seal them for Christ.
This sweet-smelling oil will remind them that they are, as Saint Paul says, to be the ‘aroma of Christ’ spreading a fragrance wherever they go. (2 Cor 2:14-15).
Tuesday in Holy Week
The words of Isaiah speak beautifully of our vocation in Christ. Chosen before birth, given great gifts of body and mind, called to be servant of the Most High, and destined to be a light of the nations so that Christ’s salvation may be brought to the ends of the earth. Such is our destiny. And yet, we can fail. We can reject this calling, give way to weakness. Both Judas and Peter in their weakness are put before us today, one to betray, the other to deny. So close to Jesus and yet capable of losing him.
Wednesday in Holy Week
Spy Wednesday we call it – for Judas has left his mark on our calendars. The pain of his betrayal is to be felt in the account of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, and thirty pieces of silver goes into language currency ever since. At the end of this Lent, which has seen us trying to purify ourselves of all that is not Christian, those thirty pieces of silver come before us as a warning.
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 comfort and support to the sick.
The Chrism Mass is a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continue to be present in the Church.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
The Scripture readings this evening direct our minds at the opening of the great Paschal celebration to the meaning of what we celebrate. We are entering into this mystery in such a way that when we break bread and share the cup this evening we once more proclaim the death of the Lord.
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 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 the Father under the appearance of bread and wine, gave them to the apostles 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 support 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.
The Easter Triduum
Click here to watch a video reflection from Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick on The Easter Triduum.
The Fathers of the Church saw the celebration of The Easter Triduum as a unitive commemoration. Saint Augustine spoke of ‘the most holy triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord’. Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday we celebrate a single, indivisible mystery. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.
Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. The celebration of the paschal mystery is not simply a recalling of past events in history. It is a sacramental celebration that renders present and actualises the saving power of Christ’s death and Resurrection to the Church.
Pope Francis schedule for Holy Week 2015
On Holy Thursday – the day commemorating the Last Supper – Pope Francis will celebrate a Chrism Mass inside Saint Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m., during which he will bless the holy oils to be used for the sacraments during the coming year. Later in the day, he will visit a prison in Rome, where he will wash the feet of inmates and celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
On Good Friday, the Pope will keep in line with papal tradition and celebrate a service for the Passion of Our Lord at 5pm in Saint Peter’s Basilica before heading to the Colosseum. Pope Francis is set to arrive at the Colosseum around 9:15 pm, where he will lead thousands in the traditional prayer of the Stations of the Cross. Afterwards, he will give his apostolic blessing before returning to the Vatican. The Roman tradition of holding the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday goes back to the pontificate of Benedict XIV, who died in 1758.
On Holy Saturday, Pope Francis will preside over the Easter Vigil in Saint Peter’s Basilica starting at 8:30 pm. After blessing the new fire and the large, beeswax candle that will burn throughout the year, known as the Easter candle, in the atrium of the basilica, Pope Francis will administer the Sacrament of Baptism to certain individuals before concelebrating Mass with the other bishops and cardinals present.
On Easter morning, 5 April, Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection in Saint Peter’s Square at 10:15 a.m. before giving his traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing – which goes out to the city of Rome and to the world – from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Please note that times are local to Rome.
Homilies and messages from Bishops for Holy Week and Easter
- 26 March 2015: Joint Holy Week and Easter 2015 message from the Archbishops of Armagh: Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Richard Clarke
- 30 March 2015: Chrism Mass Homily of Bishop Denis Nulty
- 1 April 2015: Homily of Bishop Kevin Doran at the Mass of Chrism, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo
- 1 April 2015: Chrism Mass Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam
- 2 April 2015: Mass of Chrism Homily Notes from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
- 2 April 2015: Easter 2015 Message from Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor
- 2 April 2015: Chrism Mass Homily of Bishop Liam MacDaid
Events and Services in Irish dioceses
In the Archdiocese of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin will celebrate the Chrism Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 11.00am on Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7pm, also in the cathedral. There will be veneration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Altar of Repose until Night Prayer at 10.00pm. On Good Friday, Archbishop Eamon will celebrate the Passion in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 3.00pm. A relic of the True Cross will be venerated at this ceremony. Archbishop Eamon will celebrate the Easter Vigil in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 9.00pm on Holy Saturday and on Easter Sunday he will celebrate Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection at 10.00am in Saint Malachy’s Church, Armagh.
In the Archdiocese of Dublin the annual Good Friday Procession with the Cross will take place from Christchurch Cathedral to Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral. It will begin in Christchurch Cathedral with a short Service of Prayer at 7.15 pm followed by procession through the City streets 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 meditative chants of the Táize Ecumenical Monastic Community.
Click here for full details of Holy Week services in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Bishop Francis Duffy will officiate at the following Holy Week Ceremonies in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford:
Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday at 11.00am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday at 7.30pm
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Good Friday at 3.00pm
The Easter Vigil, Holy Saturday at 9.00pm
Easter Sunday Mass at 11.30am.
Good Friday in Drogheda: The annual Good Friday, Ecumenical Way of the Cross procession, will commence from Saint Mary’s Church at 10.30am, and will again visit churches of the different Christian denominations in the town, where stations and prayers will be offered. All are welcome.
In Ballintubber Abbey Co Mayo there will be a Passion Play performance on Monday, Tuesday and Wenesday of Holy Week – March 30th , 31st and 1st Apr on Abbey Grounds from 9.00pm to 10.00pm. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will take place on Holy Thursday at 8.00pm. On Good Friday at 3.00pm there will be stations of the cross on grounds and an 8.00pm ceremony. The Holy Saturday vigil Mass will take place at 9.00pm. Easter Sunday Mass will take place by the lakeside of Lough Carra at 8.00am with Mass in the Abbey at 11.30am.
Dawn Masses on Easter Sunday morning
‘On the first day of the week, at early Dawn they went to the tomb….’ he is not here, he is risen’. (Luke 24, 1, 6)
Many Irish dioceses and parishes will host Dawn Masses on Easter Sunday morning. Dawn Mass is a very spiritual opportunity to celebrate Mass while watching the dawn break over the countryside. Here are details of some of the places hosting an Easter Sunday Dawn Mass this year:
Cooley Parish, Co Louth
Venue – Cill Mhuire Cemetery at 6am
Clane Parish, Co Kildare
Venue – Abbey Gardens, Main Street, Clane at 6am (followed by breakfast in the Parish Centre).
Mountmellick Parish, Co Laois
Venue – Graigue Cemetery at 6am.
Mount Saint Anne’s, Killenard
Venue – The grounds of Mount Saint Anne’s Killenard at 6am. (Breakfast served after Mass)
Portlaoise Parish, Co Laois
Venue – The Heath at 6am
Saint Conleth’s Parish Church , Newbridge, Co Kildare
Venue – In the grounds of Saint Conleth’s Parish Church at 6am
Dawn Masses in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
Poor Clare Monastery Garden, Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim at 5.30am.
Famine grounds St Joseph’s Hospital, Longford at 5.45am
Creevylea Abbey, Drumahaire, Co Leitrim at 6.00am
Ardagh Village, Co Longford at 6.00am
Coosan Point, Athlone at 6.30am
**Any additional Dawn Masses will be added here as we receive the information.
Notice: Please check local parishes for more information on venues. People travelling to Masses are asked to arrive on time. Please bring warm clothing, a folding chair or stool (for your own comfort) and where possible share transport in order to assist with parking at venues.
Broadcast of Religious Programmes and Services for Holy Week and Easter 2015
Thursday 2 April – Holy Thursday
1640-1740 Mass of the Lord’s Supper Fr Louis Illah, Chaplain of St Joseph’s School, Navan, celebrates Mass in the RTÉ studios with the school’s choir and pupils. Music is led by David Burke. The liturgy commemorates the Last Supper and includes the annual ceremony of foot- washing, in memory of Jesus’s famous demonstration of servitude. (Live on RTÉ One TV + delayed broadcast on Radio 1 Extra / LW 252/Digital Platforms at 1900)
Friday 3 April – Good Friday
1345-1400 Feasting and Fasting, a Reflection on Good Friday by Aidan Mathews. (RTÉ Radio One. All wavelengths.)
1400-1500 Music for Good Friday with Tim Thurston. Over the centuries, composers have written some of the most intense and beautiful music for Holy Week, especially to enrich the services of Good Friday. To mark the most solemn moment in the Christian calendar, Tim Thurston introduces a rich selection of music from a variety of styles, including Gregorian plainchant and works by Allegri, Sheryngham, Valentini, Lotti, JS Bach, Pergolesi, Haydn, Rossini, Lukaszewski and King John IV of Portugal. (RTE Radio 1 FM only)
1400-1445 A Methodist service of Worship for Good Friday from Trinity College Chapel, led by one of the chaplains, the Rev. Julian Hamilton, with music from the Trinity Chapel Choir. (RTE Radio 1 Extra
/252 LW/digital platforms)
1455-1600 Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion from the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Rathdowney, Co. Laois. Celebrant: Fr. Martin Delaney PP; Liturgical Music from the Combined Choirs of Rathdowney and Errill, directed by Maureen Gilfoyle, featuring uilleann piper Billy Carrigan. Each year the people of Rathdowney participate in the liturgy of Holy Week in a special way. This year, parts of the liturgical cross will be carried from home to home within the parish. In each home prayers will be offered and petitions written on five pieces of the liturgical cross which will be assembled during the solemn celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. (Simulcast on RTÉ One and RTÉ Radio 1 LW252 / 1 Extra / digital platforms.)
1500-1600 Searmanas na Páise. Searmanas Aoine an Chéasta beo ó Shéipeál Chúil Aodha, Co. Chorcaigh. Léiriú: Jeaic Ó Muircheartaigh. (RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.)
Saturday, 4 April – Holy Saturday
2300-0030 Solemn celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass from the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Rathdowney, Co. Laois. Celebrant: Fr. Martin Delaney PP; Liturgical Music from the Combined Choirs of Rathdowney and Errill, directed by Maureen Gilfoyle. (Simulcast on RTÉ One and RTÉ Radio 1 LW252 / 1 Extra / digital platforms.)
Sunday 5 April – Easter Sunday
0915-1100 Mass for Easter Sunday celebrated by Pope Francis, in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, with live commentary and translation by Fr Thomas McCarthy, OP. (RTÉ One) Followed directly by…
1100-1130 Urbi et Orbi: Pope Francis’ Easter Message to the world, also with commentary by Fr Thomas McCarthy, OP. (RTÉ One)
1000-1300 Sunday Spirit. Michael Comyn presents a mixture of conversation, music, features and acquired international programming, reflecting the world of contemporary religious belief in Ireland and beyond. This weekly programme incorporates Mass (1100-1145) and a Service (1145-1230). See below for details. (RTÉ Radio 1 Extra / LW 252)
1100-1145 Mass from the Church of St. Mary & St. Michael, New Ross. The celebrant is Fr Joseph McGrath. Music comes from the Parish Choir. (RTÉ Radio One LW252 / 1 Extra/DAB only.)
1130-1215 Aifreann an Domhnaigh. Aifreann Dhomhnach Cásca beo ó Shéipeál Chúil Aodha, Co. Chorcaigh. Léiriú: Jeaic Ó Muircheartaigh. (RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.)
1130-1215 Easter Sunday Service Service of the Word with congregation from Hillhall Presbyterian Church, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, led by the Rev. Paul Jamieson (RTÉ One. This service can also be heard on RTÉ Radio 1 LW252/1 Extra/Digital Platforms at 11.45am.)
1900-2000 A World of Song. On A World of Song, Liz Nolan celebrates Easter with Verdi’s powerhouse opera I Vespri Siciliani– a drama of love and rebellion, set beneath burning Sicilian skies. Also, choral music to welcome the arrival of spring, with the Flower Songs of Britten and renaissance madrigals. (RTÉ Lyric FM)
2230-2330 Passion – a Would You Believe? Special. In 2014, the residents of Nicker and Pallas Green, a small community in rural Co. Limerick, staged Ireland’s first 24-hour Passion play. A drama without script, performed by amateurs, it demanded that its cast dig deep, not only into their understanding of the 2000 year old Easter story, but deep into themselves. In doing so, they discovered passion in the fullest sense, producing a profoundly moving, even life-changing work of dramatic art that transcended its participants’ ideas of religion and left many who saw it stunned. This remarkable documentary captures all that PASSION. (RTÉ One TV.)