ONE OF THE FIRST ANNUAL EVENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN YEAR, after the celebration of the resurrection on every Sunday or Lord’s Day, was a commemoration of Christ’s dying and rising at the time of the Jewish Passover.
This celebration is the origin of our Easter Vigil, a service which celebrates Easter and the Cross, but also the making of the world, which was begun, according to Genesis, on the first day of the first week. The original Vigil, therefore, was about Creation and Redemption at the same time.
Over the years, one day was divided into three different rituals to remember the Last Supper and New Commandment (Maundy Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and the Resurrection (Easter Day). This happened because Christians wanted to pay closer attention to the different parts of the “paschal mystery” – the name given to the death and resurrection of Christ.
So the “paschal mystery” is a story told in many different liturgies in Holy Week, but as a unified act. It is one service that takes a whole week. What happens on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil forms a continuous dramatic story. The days are to be seen together rather than separately. Each service of Holy Week needs the others to tell the whole story. For example, resurrection is incomprehensible without Christ’s self-giving in crucifixion and at the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, Easter needs Good Friday and Maundy Thursday if we are to begin to understand it.
The “paschal mystery” is at the heart of our formation as Christians, because in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ we can begin to see all the
experiences, the up and downs of our lives, including, ultimately, our own death. And in that light we can understand and respond to God’s call to justice and peace for all, and begin to see how we can response to it.
All of Holy Week, and particularly the Triduum (the final three days), provides an opportunity to undertake a pilgrimage of renewed commitment, from triumphal entry, through the Lord’s Supper and the suffering of the Cross, to the new hope of Easter morning. We hope that you will be making that journey again this year.
Services during Holy Week at Old Saint Paul’s
PALM SUNDAY (14 April):
10.30am Palm Procession and High Mass with sung Passion
2.00pm ‘Jesus on the Royal Mile’
Ecumenical procession from Mercat Cross to Holyrood
6.30pm Stations of the Cross and Benediction
Monday 15 April:
at Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Cowgate
Wednesday 17 April:
7.30pm Tenebrae, a traditional sung liturgy (joined by other churches)
MAUNDY THURSDAY (18 April):
7.30pm Mass of the Last Supper with Footwashing and The Watch of the Passion
GOOD FRIDAY (19 April):
12 noon Three Hours Service, including
1.30pm Liturgy of the Passion
7.30pm Service for Good Friday
at Canongate Church of Scotland Church
HOLY SATURDAY (20 April):
10.30am Easter Garden: activities for children and families in the church.
EASTER DAY (21 April):
5 am Easter Vigil Mass with the New Fire
10.30am High Mass
6.30pm Evensong and Benediction