Palm Sunday, April 9th, is the final Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday commemorates Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, days before he was crucified. Red and white are the liturgical colors used during Holy Week. Palm Sunday is known as such because believers often receive palm branches which are used in the reenactment of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, to the triumphant praise of the townspeople who threw their clothes and palm branches in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people to show great respect. Palm branches symbolize peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday. The use of a donkey instead of a horse is also highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war. A week later, Christ would maltreated, crucified, and rise from the dead on the first Easter.
During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are blessed and distributed to parishioners, who carry them in a ritual procession into church. After the celebration, many people take the palms home and fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be kept for a year and returned to the church to be burned and used as ashes for the following year's Ash Wednesday services.
HOLY TRIDUUM (HOLY THREE DAYS)
HOLY THURSDAY is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice. The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal. The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on Holy Thursday (April 13th at 7:00PM) . White is the color used during this solemn celebration.
GOOD FRIDAY is the day on which Catholics and many other Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is also a legal holiday around much of the world. According to the Gospels, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot on the night of the Last Supper, commemorated on Holy Thursday. The morning following Christ's arrest, he was brought before Annas, a powerful Jewish cleric. Annas condemned Jesus for blasphemy for refusing to repudiate Annas' words that He was the Son of God. From there, Jesus was sent toPontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province. Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus, but found no reason to condemn Him. Instead, he suggested the Jewish religious leaders deal with Jesus according to their own law. But under Roman law, they could not execute Jesus, so they appealed to Pilate to issue the order to kill Jesus. Pilate appealed to King Herod, who found no guilt in Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate once again. Pilate declared Jesus to be innocent, and washed his hands to show that he wanted nothing to do with Jesus' death, but the crowds were enraged. To prevent a riot and to protect his station, Pilate reluctantly agreed to execute Jesus and sentenced him to crucifixion. Jesus was convicted of proclaiming himself to be the "King of the Jews." Good Friday is the only day of the year in which the celebration of Holy Mass does not occur. Communion reserved from the Holy Thursday celebration provides the Body of Christ to those wishing to receive Jesus in the Sacrament during Good Friday Service (April 14th at 7:00PM). Red, symbolizing the Blood of Christ, is the liturgical color used on Good Friday.
EASTER is the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. It is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year, which runs through Pentecost Sunday. As the Gospels relate, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion, which would be Sunday. His resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin, and death. It is the singular event which proves that those who trust in God and accept Christ will be raised from the dead. Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God's promises to mankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar. In the Gospels, the precise details of the Easter narrative vary slightly, but none of these variances are critical to the main story. In fact, it is argued the variances are simply matters of style, not substance. Despite the variances, the key aspects of the Easter story all match. Above all, they agree that the tomb of Christ was indeed empty, which is the most essential fact. Based on direct evidence from the mid-second century, it is believed that Easter was regularly celebrated from the earliest days of the Church. The Easter date is movable, but always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Easter in the Catholic Church is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Most Catholics attend the Easter Vigil Service, offered at 7:00PM on the night before Easter Sunday at Holy Name of Mary. Sunday Mass is also offered on Easter Sunday at 10:00AM. Easter Season runs from Easter Sunday until the Day of Pentecost.
PENTECOST... Coming 50 days after Easter and ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord, Pentecost (Sunday, June 4th) marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostolic Band. For that reason, it is often called the "the birthday of the Church." On this day "the Holy Spirit was manifested, given and communicated as a Divine Person to the Church, fulfilling the Paschal Mystery of Christ according to His promise”! The Lord Jesus Christ promised to send the Apostles "another Paraclete" – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to teach them all Truth and abide with them forever (John 14:25-26). The Holy Spirit made Himself known through “a strong, driving wind” (Acts 2:2) and “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3). The “wind” recalls the Spirit of God moving over the waters at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-2). The manifestation of the Holy Spirit through the “strong, driving wind” indicates that a “new creation” is taking place: the renewal of humanity in God’s Holy Spirit. The “tongues of fire” denote the Presence of God, purification, and Judgment. Traditional catechesis (i.e. training people in the Faith) saw the tongues of fire as signifying the sacredness and divine (God-given) authority of the preaching and teaching of the Apostles, by whose words, fervor, and witness, and example all people were to be converted to the knowledge, love, and service to God.