A summary of the liturgical conference given by Fr. Daniel Estacio, Director, Ministry of Liturgical Affairs
“Let each one deny himself of some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to Holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.” (St. Benedict, rule c. 49)
What is lent?
Lent starts from Ash Wednesday until the mass of the Lord’s supper exclusive on Holy Thursday. “The annual Lenten season is a fitting time to climb the holy mountain of Easter. The Lenten season has a double character, namely, to prepare both catechumens and faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. The catechumens, with the rite of election and scrutinizes and by catechesis, are prepared for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation; the faithful, ever more attentive to the word of God and prayer, prepare themselves by penance for the renewal of their baptismal promises. (Caeremoniale Episcoporum, 249).
In Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his earthly life: from his messianic entry into Jerusalem, until his blessed Passion and glorious Resurrection. It begins on Palm Sunday, preceded by the first vespers on Saturday, and ends on Holy Thursday before the Evening mass of the Lord’s supper.
The rites of the Holy Week, that is, the blessing and procession of palms, the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Easter Vigil are celebrated in the churches.
Palm Sunday is a reenactment of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The Easter Triduum
Christ redeemed us all.
The Eucharist consecrated on Holy Thursday is distributed only on Good Friday liturgy, but it may be distributed to the sick at any convenient hour.
Funeral masses are not allowed during the Easter Triduum.
Holy Thursday liturgy consists of the Chrism mass and the evening mass of the Last Supper. The Chrism mass is one of the principal expressions of the fullness of the bishop’s priesthood.
In the evening mass, the Eucharist overflows in a meal with the people whom Jesus wanted to be identified with, namely, the poor and the marginalized.
The washing of the feet is a concrete symbol of what the Eucharist is all about – humble service. Washing is to express concretely to offer gifts in cash or kind for the poor.
In the choosing the twelve apostles, there is no reason why they should not be representatives of the different sectors of society; nor it be necessary that they be twelve; but they have to be male and should be morally respectable.
The stripping of the altar is an ancient practice to signify the end of the Eucharistic celebration. The crucifixes are covered with red or purple veil. Lamps should not lit before the images of the saints.
The faithful are encouraged to adore the blessed sacrament for a suitable period of time during the night. The Blessed Sacrament should not be exposed in a monstrance or even in a ciborium. It should be kept in a tabernacle during the altar of repose.
Good Friday of the Lord’s passion
Good Friday celebration is not in the form of a Eucharistic celebration because of the ancient tradition of fasting. It is composed of the liturgy of the word and the veneration of the cross and holy communion.
Three in the afternoon is the time when Christ died on the cross. This is not remembering but a reality of the here and now.
The veneration of the cross is not one of the image of Christ on the cross, but a wood of the cross. Only one cross is used for veneration. This contributes to the full symbolism of the rite.
On Good Friday and if possible, on Holy Saturday until Easter vigil, the paschal fast and abstinence are observed everywhere to honor the suffering and death of Jesus in order to prepare ourselves for the renewal of our baptismal promises and to share more deeply in his resurrection.
Today, a great silence has fallen on the earth, and with it, also solitude. There is a great silence, because the King sleeps, the earth trembles and was silent, because the Lord slept in the flesh. God died in the flesh.
The celebration of marriage is forbidden; except those of penance and anointing of the sick.
Easter vigil, the mother of all vigils
In the vigil, we have to have our lamps burning ready, awaiting for the master’s return, so that when he arrives and finds us watching, he will sit with us at the table of his body and blood.
The easter vigil has four parts: the service of the light, the liturgy of the word, baptism and the renewal of baptismal vows, and the liturgy of the eucharist.
The exultet is the compendium of the chief events God has accomplished in us.
The Gloria is sung; bells are rung festively, and the alleluia is intoned solemnly.
The fifty days of Easter are like one long and endless day of rejoicing.
It culminates in the solemnity of the Pentecost in the bestowal of the Holy Spirit.
The Salubong is a Marian devotion; the mother of the risen Christ is the first and full partaker of the blessings of redemption.
For the Filipinos, this picture has to be completed by the apparition of Jesus to his mother first thing in the morning of the resurrection.
The congregation of divine worship offers a solid theological basis for salubong: it affirms that Mary was the first and full participant in the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection.
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