Our church follows the calendar of the liturgical year. Beginning with Advent and progressing through Christmas, Epiphany Season, Lent, Easter Season, and the Season after Pentecost. These seasons follow the earthly life of Christ as well as his ministry in the world. St. Mary’s is especially blessed to offer special liturgies throughout the liturgical for major feasts and seasons of the church.
During Holy Week, we journey with Christ through his last days. We begin with the joy of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We then journey through his betrayal and arrest to his death and burial. Finally, we end the week waiting for his glorious resurrection from the dead.
Our Palm Sunday liturgies begin in our parish hall. We hear the Gospel of Christ’s great entry into Jerusalem. We then bless palm branches and crosses. We walk through the streets proclaiming the coming of Christ. When we reach the sanctuary, things change in a heartbeat and we are pulled into the story of Christ’s suffering and death as we hear one of the four Gospels detailing its story. The overall effect is that we are left with a sense of uncertainty and doubt as to what could possibly happen next.
At 7:00 the evening of Holy Monday, we gather around the cross for prayer with music from the ecumenical religious community of Taizé in France. At this liturgy, we hear the Gospel wherein Christ is anointed by Mary Magdalene for his burial.
This 7:00 in the evening is graced with the celebration of Evening Prayer. We hear God’s word, offer praise to him; and pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.
At 7:00 PM On Holy Wednesday, we pray the service of Tenebrae (darkness). We pray using the psalms and also texts from the book of lamentations. The service is underscored by the use of Gregorian Chant and other simple music.
Thursday of Holy Week sees us remembering the founding of the service of Holy Communion that we celebrate every Sunday. Christ took bread and wine, called them his body and blood, and called the disciples to remember this whenever they broke bread together. But more, he called upon them and upon all people to love and serve one another. We gather together and hear the Gospel of that first Holy Eucharist and also of how Christ washed the feet of his beloved followers. We then wash the feet of each other and receive the bread and wine of Communion. Afterwards we share a simple meal in our parish hall. Then things change. We hear the Gospel of the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot and of his arrest. We return to the darkened nave and see our church stripped of all decoration and other furnishings. Finally, the altar is washed in symbolism of the complete departure of Christ from among us. All that is left is a place of prayer in the church where a small amount of communion bread and wine are kept safe to be used on Good Friday.
This day of Holy Week sees Christ tried and sentenced to die. We hold two services on this day. At noon, the community gathers in prayer to hear of Christ’s death in a unique service that blends Christ’s last words with hymns. At 7:00 in the evening, we hold our Good Friday Liturgy. At this time, we hear the Passion Gospel of St. John, receive the communion that has been saved since the previous day, and pray through music from the Parish Choir. At both of our Good Friday liturgies the cross is honored. All in attendance are welcomed to come forward to kneel and pray at the cross and to anoint it using oil, rose water, or rose petals.
On Holy Saturday morning at 9:00 AM, there is a short service which has the feeling of prayers being offered outside of tomb in which Christ’s body was lain. There is no music and the service lasts about fifteen minutes.