The Church intends to renew, in a most solemn manner, the anniversary
of the instituion of the Holy Eucharist and the Catholic priesthood.
The priest intones the angelic hymn, "Gloria in excelsis Deo,"
and the bells ring forth a joyous peal during the whole of the
heavenly canticle, but from that moment on they remain silent.
The Church deprives us of these sweet bells to show us that
this world lost all its melody and joy when its Savior suffered
and was crucified.
Another rite unique to today is the consecration of two Hosts
during the Mass. One of these the priests receives in Communion;
the other he reserves and reverently places in a chalice, which
he covers with a silk veil. The reason for this is that tomorrow,
Good Friday, the Church suspends the daily Sacrifice. Although
the Sacrifice is suspended, the Church would not that her Divine
Spouse lose the homage that is due to Him in the Holy Eucharist.
Therefore, in a richly ornamented side altar, the Church places
the Body of the Divine Lord. Though the Divine Lord is veiled
from their view, the faithful will visit Him in this His holy
resting place, pay Him their most humble adorations, and present
Him their most fervent supplications.
After Mass, the altar is stripped. The altar will remain in
this denuded state until the daily offering can again be presented
to the Divine Majesty; that is, when the Spouse of the Holy
Church shall arise from the grave. Christ is now in the hands
of His enemies, the Jews, who are about to strip Him of His
garments, just as we strip the altar.
Mass 9:00 a.m. & Tre Ore 12 -3 p.m.
The solemn rites of this morning announce to the faithful the
sacredness of this day and the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice.
Everything in the sanctuary bespeaks mournfulness. The Church
now instructs us of the Passion and Death of Her Divine Spouse
according to Saint John. After the Passion, the Church follows
the example set by the Mediator of the world by offering prayers
and supplications. All men, even the Jews, are included in her
intercession which she makes, under the shadow of the cross,
to the Father of all ages. Each of these prayers is prefaced
by a genuflection with the exception of the one for the Jews.
The Church has no hesitation in offering up a prayer for the
descendants of Jesus' executioners; but in doing so, she refrains
from genuflecting because this mark of adoration was turned
by the Jews into an insult against our Lord.
The Church next invites her faithful children to a solemn act
of reparation which consists in venerating that cross which
our Divine Lord has consecrated by His own Blood and by Its
means has worked our salvation. The holy cross, veiled in violet,
is exposed in three separate elevations. The first represents
the first preaching of the cross which the apostles made to
the few faithful disciples of Jesus. The second signifies the
apostles' extending their preaching of the mystery of our redemption
to the Jews after the descent of the Holy Ghost. The third and
unreserved manifestation represents the mystery of the cross
being preached to the whole world after the apostles had been
rejected by the majority of the Jews. Holy Church expresses
to us the contrast of the Jewish and Catholic view. The one
finds nothing in Christ crucified but shame and ignominy; the
other discovers in Him the power and the wisdom of God. Thus,
the veil of the mystery of the cross is removed by faith.
So vividly is the Church impressed with the remembrance of
the great Sacrifice of Calvary that she refrains from renewing
the immolation of the Divine Victim. The Victim reserved in
the altar of repose is brought to the main altar in a solemn
procession. Before receiving the Sacred Host in Holy Communion,
the priest, taking the adorable Body of Our Redeemer, raises
it on high, as Jesus was raised on the cross. The faithful bow
down in profound adoration before their crucified Lord.
The first ceremony consists in the blessing of the new fire.
Light is an image of the Son of God. The spark, which is struck
from the flint to light the new fire,represents our Lord rising
from His rock-hewn sepulchre. All the lamps in the church are
extinquished, symbolizing the abrogation of the Old Law. The
Church also blesses five grains of incense which represent the
perfumes prepared by Magdalene and her holy companions for embalming
the Body of Jesus.
The first branch of a three branched candle (trident),representing
the Blessed Trinity, is lit from the new fire. The candle is
brought into the church and elevated three times. The first
elevation expresses the revelation made to us by Jesus of the
Divinity of the Father. The second signifies the world's receiving
the knowledge of the Divinity of the Son. The third elevation
signifies the revelation of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost.
This then, the proclamation of the Holy Trinity, is the first
use of the new fire.
The second use of the new fire is for lighting the Paschal
candle. Before being lit, the candle is a figure of Our Lord
lying lifeless in the tomb. The blessed grains of incense are
fixed into the candle, representing the five wounds received
by Our Lord. The Paschal candle is now lit with one of the branches
of the trident. This signifies the moment of Our Lord's Resurrection.
The glorious symbol of Christ is now perfect.
The Baptismal water is blessed today. The priest makes the
sign of the cross in the water to signify that it is by the
cross that this element receives the power of regenerating the
souls of men. The priest sprinkles water towards the four parts
of the world which received the preaching of Baptism. The priest
then expresses the character of the Holy Ghost by breathing
three times in the form of a cross over the water. Taking the
Paschal candle, the priest dips it into the water, signifying
the mystery of Christ's baptism in the Jordan. Before taking
the candle out, the priest again breathes upon the water to
signify the union of the power of the Holy Ghost with that of
The Mass is begun. The "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" is joyously
sung. The hitherto silent bells peal to the angelic hymn. The
Gospel is sung; however, only the thurifer accompanies the procession.
The acolytes and candles are not present. This signifies the
women who went to the sepulchre carrying sweet spices but the
light of faith in the Resurrection was not yet in their hearts.
The Credo is omitted, reminding us of the hours which elapsed
before the apostles themselves had honoured it by their faith.