THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD
After agreeing to baptize Him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed Him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows Himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses His mission: “to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #608)
THE SACRED LITURGY DURING HOLY WEEK
During Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ Our Lord in the last days of His life on earth, beginning with His messianic entrance into Jerusalem. The Lenten season lasts until the Thursday of this week. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s supper and is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the Passion of our Lord and Holy Saturday, to reach its summit in the Easter Vigil, and concludes with Vespers of Easter Sunday.
Holy week begins on Palm Sunday, which joins the foretelling of Christ’s regal triumph and proclamation of the Passion.
HOLY THURSDAY – EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
With the celebration of Mass on the evening of Holy Thursday, the Church begins the Easter Triduum and recalls the Last Supper in which the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, showing His love for those who were His own in the world, gave His Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine offering to His Father and giving them to the Apostles so that they might partake of Them, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to perpetuate this offering. In this Mass, three mysteries are commemorated: the Institution of the Eucharist, the Institution of the Priesthood, and Christ’s command of brotherly love.
On this day, when Christ our Passover was sacrificed, the Church meditates on the Passion of her Lord and Spouse; adores the Cross, commemorates her origin from the side of Christ on the Cross; and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist. Good Friday is a day of penance, prayer and fasting be observed as an obligation in the whole Church.
The Church is, as it were, at the Lord’s tomb meditating on His Passion and Death and on His descent into the dead awaiting His Resurrection with prayer and fasting.
THE PASCHAL FAST
The Faithful are reminded that the Paschal fast is to be observed on Good Friday. If possible, it should be continued on Holy Saturday. This means abstinence from meat and only one full meal on these days. The law of abstinence from meat binds those who are 14 and older; the law of fasting binds those from 18-59 years of age. By this observance, we shall be prepared to receive the joys of the Lord’s Resurrection with uplifted and responsive hearts.