(MS) — Holy Week marks the most solemn and revered period on the Christian calendar. Holy Week helps to mark the Paschal Mystery, which includes the Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Many events unfolded in a short period of time during the final days of Christ’s physical existence on earth. These events are marked during Holy Week. To understand them further, here’s a day-by-day guide.
Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, a 40-day period of solemn prayer and repentance. Palm Sunday recalls Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem when he was received with lavish praise and excitement. Catholic Online, the online guide to the Catholic faith, says Jesus arrived humbly on a donkey to show he came in peace as a man of the people. As signs of respect, townspeople placed clothes, branches and palm fronds in front of Jesus.
Matthew 21 and Mark 11 indicate that Christ returned to Jerusalem this day and cleansed the Temple area from shameful practices. Luke 19 indicates that Pharisees warn Jesus that he should silence the crowd’s praises toward him.
As described in John 12:20-36 and John 13:21-38, some people observed Christ’s predictions of his own death on this day. He was also confronted by Temple leadership for the cleansing of the Temple the day before, and they questioned his authority.
Holy (Spy) Wednesday
This day marks Judas’ betrayal of Jesus when he met with high priests. Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver for his information.
On this evening Christ dined for Passover with his disciples at The Last Supper, creating a template for Holy Mass and Holy Eucharist celebrations. During the meal, Jesus predicted the events that would immediately follow, including his betrayal, the denial of Peter, and his death and resurrection.
Pontius Pilate bowed to the pressure of the Temple leadership and the crowds, condemning Jesus to death by crucifixion. Christ was forced to parade through crowds wearing a crown of thorns to symbolize his status as King of the Jews, and carried a massive wooden cross on his back. He was nailed to the cross by the ankles and wrists and hanged for three hours. He died at 3 pm. His body was hastily removed and put in a tomb.
Christ’s disciples were heartbroken at his death and observed the Jewish Sabbath in sorrow, forgetting about the promise of resurrection.
The public discovered that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that he fulfilled his promise to rise from the dead. This is a great feast day with worship and celebration. Easter Sunday is the foremost day of religious observance within the Christian faith.
To learn more about Holy Week and the miracle of Easter, visit www.catholic.org.