During Holy Week the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ 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, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the Passion of the Lord and Holy Saturday, to reach its summit in the Easter Vigil. It concludes with Vespers of Easter Sunday. The days of Holy Week, from Monday to Thursday inclusive, have precedence over all other celebrations. It is not fitting that Baptisms or Confirmation be celebrated on these days.
Holy Week begins on ‘Passion (or Palm) Sunday’ which joins the foretelling of Christ’s regal triumph and the proclamation of the Passion. The connection between both aspects of the paschal mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.
The Commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem has, according to ancient custom, been celebrated with a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing ‘Hosanna’.
The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel in some other suitable place distinct from the church to which the procession will move.
In this procession the faithful carry palm or other branches. The priest and the ministers (also carrying branches) precede the people.
The palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home, where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ which the community celebrated in the procession.
Pastors should make every effort to ensure that this procession in honour of Christ the King be so prepared and celebrated that it is of great spiritual significance in the life of the faithful.
In addition to the solemn procession described above, the Missal gives two other forms to commemorate the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. This is not simply for convenience, but to provide for those situations when it will not be possible to have a procession.
The second form is that of a solemn entrance, when the procession cannot take place outside the church.
The third form is a simple entrance such as is used at all Masses on this Sunday which do not have the solemn entrance.
Where the Mass cannot be celebrated, there should be a celebration of word of God on the theme of the Lord’s messianic entrance and passion, either on Saturday evening or on Sunday at a convenient time.
During the procession, the choir and people should sing the chants proposed in the Roman Missal, especially psalms 23 and 46, as well as other appropriate songs in honour of Christ the King.
The Passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is by three persons; one takes the part of Christ, another is the narrator, while the third represents the people. The Passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers; in the latter case, the part of Christ should be reserved to the priest.
The proclamation of the Passion should be without candles or incense; the greeting and the signs of the cross are omitted; only a deacon asks for the blessing, as he does before the Gospel.
For the spiritual good of the faithful the Passion should be proclaimed in its entirety, and the readings which precede it should not be omitted.
After the Passion has been proclaimed, a homily is to be given.
THE CHRISM MASS
The Chrism Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium and at which the Holy Chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ. To this Mass, the priest who concelebrate with the bishop should come from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the Chrism that they are his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry they are his helpers and counsellors.
The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass, and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Traditionally the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week. If however, it should prove to be difficult for the clergy and people to gather with the bishop, this rite can be transferred to another day, but always close to Easter. The Chrism and the oil of catechumens is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night.
There should be only one celebration of the Chrism Mass given its significance in the life of the diocese, and it should take place in the cathedral or, for pastoral reasons, in another church which has a special significance.
The Holy Oils can be brought to the individual parishes before the celebration of the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, or at some other suitable time. This can be a means of catechizing the faithful about the use and effects of the Holy Oils and Chrism in Christian life.
THE PENITENTIAL CELEBRATIONS IN LENT
It is fitting that the Lenten season should be concluded with a penitential celebration, both for the individual Christian as well as for the whole Christian community, so that they may be helped to prepare to celebrate more fully the paschal mystery.
These celebrations should take place before the Easter Triduum, and should not immediately precede the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
– Given at Rome, at the Offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship, 16 January 1988