Holy Week

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Palmarum/Palm Sunday: The ceremony of blessing the palm branches and the accompanying jubilant processions are ancient customs and were almost universal by the 7th century.

Wednesday in Holy Week: The actual beginning of the events that reached their culmination in the crucifixion of our Lord. The ancient Church used on this and the two succeeding days an office called Tenebrae. The ceremony consisted of the extinction of one candle after another of fifteen placed on a stand following lessons, until all was left in complete darkness, a poignant commemoration of the crucifixion.

Maundy Thursday: This day marks the institution by our Lord of the Holy Supper. He commanded His disciples to do this in remembrance of Him. The day's name derived from dies mandati (of the commandment).

Good Friday: This has always been a day of great solemnity and devoted religious observance, usually however of the simplest character and shorn of anything that might contribute a festal tone. A strict fast was observed; works of charity and gifts of love were urged. All notes of joy were scrupulously hushed, all altar ornaments and coverings were removed, and the vestments were black.

Holy Saturday: Called the Great Sabbath and the Holy Sabbath as early as post-apostolic times. Ceremonies included blessing of the new fire and Paschal Candle. A strict fast was kept but the tone gradually turned to joy.

Passiontide: The two weeks from the 5th Sunday in Lent to Easter have been spoken of as the Passiontide from very early times. It marked the duration of the earliest ecclesiastical observance of a specially marked period in commemoration of our Lord's Passion. From this brief period, the Lent we now know has been developed through the centuries.

St. Philip and St. James

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St. Philip the Apostle: He hailed from Bethsaida of Galilee and was the fourth of the twelve apostles to follow Jesus. He undoubtedly was an earnest listener to John the Baptist’s preaching and brought good news of the Messiah to his close friend Nathanael insisting he come to meet Jesus in person. Philip was present at the feeding of the 5,000, questioning how they could ever feed so many with the little they had, and was the one who introduced Greek-speaking Jews to Jesus when others were hesitant to do so. At the Last Supper, Philip asked to see the Father, still puzzled like the rest regarding just who Jesus was. His feast day is celebrate together with St. James on May 1. A statue of St. Philip is at the right.

St. James the Apostle: The brother of John (the “Sons of Zebedee”), and one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus. He was called by Jesus while fishing (“I will make you a fisher of men!”) and probably had known Jesus for some time. Some scholars think that James’ mother, Salome, was a sister of Mary the mother of Jesus making James and Jesus first cousins. James was one of the “inner circle” of the Twelve accompanying Jesus on occasions when He invited only a few to be with Him. Jesus also called James and John the “Sons of Thunder,” when James wanted to rain down fire to destroy an inhospitable Samaritan village and also in light of James asking Jesus for a place of prominence in His kingdom. James was the first of the Twelve to die for the Gospel when Agrippa had him put to death (Acts 12:2). His feast day is celebrate together with St. Philip on May 1.

Remembering the Saints

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The title “saint” applies to all believers, of course, but in ancient usage it came to be applied to those who by virtue of being apostles, or martyrs, or very great teachers, or who by exhibiting holiness of life were thought to be worthy of emulation and honor, just as in the secular calendar we honor men like Martin Luther King or Simon Bolivar.

As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, we are surrounded with a great and awesome cloud of witnesses, men and women of whom the world was not worthy. Why, why will we most gladly set days aside to honor the fathers of our nation-Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson-but draw back in dismay from giving honor to the Fathers of our Faith? Believing what they taught is fine, but let us press on to the fullness of faith and give honor to whom honor is due. Let us once again build time around that which is eternal, Christ and His kingdom, and not merely around that which is passing away.
Thomas Howard,
Evangelical is not Enough.