Catholic Faith Matters


Palm Sunday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  | Easter Vigil  |  Easter Day

Holy Week Liturgies


Just What is Holy Week?

by Fr. Austin Fleming

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  | Easter Vigil  |  Easter Day


Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.

Palm Sunday is known as such because the faithful will often receive palm fronds which they use to participate in the reenactment of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, and to the lavish praise of the townspeople who threw clothes, or possibly palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.

Palm branches are widely recognized symbol of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday.

The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war.

A week later, Christ would rise from the dead on the first Easter.

During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into church. The palms are blessed and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be returned to the church, or kept for the year.

Because the palms are blessed, they may not be discarded as trash. Instead, they are appropriately gathered at the church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in the follow year’s Ash Wednesday observance.

The colors of the Mass on Palm Sunday are red and white, symbolizing the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

SOURCE: Catholic Online Youtube Channel / LEARN MORE

Palm Sunday Resources

READINGS: Lk 19:28-40, Is 50:4-7, Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24. Phil 2:6-11, Lk 22:14—23:56

Holy Thursday

Palm Sunday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  | Easter Vigil  |  Easter Day


Holy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfil His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice.

The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal.

The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on Holy Thursday.

He also establishes the special priesthood for his disciples, which is distinct from the “priesthood of all believers.” Christ washed the feet of his Disciples, who would become the first priests.

This establishment of the priesthood reenacted at Mass with the priest washing the feet of several parishioners.

During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his Disciples, uttering the words, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Subsequently, he passes a cup filled with wine. He then says, “This is my blood…” It is believed those who eat of Christ’s flesh and blood shall have eternal life.

During the Mass, Catholics rightly believe, as an article of faith, that the unleavened bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through a process known as transubstantiation. There have been notable Eucharistic miracles attributed to this event, such as bleeding hosts (communion wafers).

The Last Supper is celebrated daily in the Catholic Church as part of every Mass for it is through Christ’s sacrifice that we have been saved.

On the night of Holy Thursday, Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place where the faithful remain in the presence of the Eucharist just as the Disciples kept a vigil with Christ.

Following the Last Supper, the disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where he would be betrayed by Judas.

The Last Supper has been the subject of art for centuries, including the great masterpiece by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The cup used by Jesus is known as the Holy Grail. Although it has been rumored to exist throughout history, it is almost certainly lost to time. There is no reason to believe the cup would have been outstanding in any way, and was likely a typical drinking vessel, indistinguishable from many others. Still, many myths continue to revolve around the artifact, and it remains a target for treasure seekers and a subject of entertainment. There is an incalculable abundance of art and tradition surrounding the Last Supper which has been celebrated by Christians since the last days of Christ until now.

At every hour of every day, somewhere around the world, Mass is being said and Communion taken. This has been happening incessantly for at least several hundred years. For nearly the past two thousand years, not a single day has gone by without a Mass being celebrated in some fashion. Therefore, anyone who celebrates the Mass participates in a daily tradition that is essentially two thousand years old.

SOURCE: Catholic Online Youtube Channel / LEARN MORE

Holy Thursday Resources

READINGS: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14, Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18. 1 Cor 11:23-26, Jn 13:1-15

Holy Thursday Homilies


Washing of Feet & Eucharist

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2000

This evening’s liturgy has two unique features: the Washing of the Feet and the Transfer of the Holy Eucharist. Each one brings out an important aspect of the Mass and helps us understand why the Vatican Council calls the Eucharist the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (LG 11) In the Washing of the Feet we see the humility of Jesus. His disciples were taken by surprise. When I was in Peru, I once selected twelve men at random to wash their feet. They were a little embarrassed because they had not prepared their feet the way the twelve chosen tonite have – at least I hope so! Still, in Peru I was much closer to Jesus’ experience.

The Church Fathers saw the Washing of the Feet as an indication of post-baptismal cleansing: “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over.” (Jn 13:10) For us Catholics this refers to the forgiveness of sins we receive thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation – and the Eucharist itself.


No Mass Without the Priesthood



In this day and age, there is so much pressure from people for priests to adopt their way of acting, their attitudes and habits, their agitated lives and occupations. But is this what is really needed?  Pity the poor priest, forced to prove his worth and justify his existence by his affability or other skills, rather than by his priesthood in offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is seen as innately worthless in an unbelieving world. Sometimes, I feel that so many of us priests often attempt to conform ourselves to these standards that we forget this one simple truth: the priest exists for one main purpose: to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. When we forget this, then the cultic nature of the priesthood is diminished at the expense of making him a better manager or a better public speaker. Better managers and better speakers we have aplenty. But only a priest can do what a priest does best – offer the sacrifice of the Mass faithfully and diligently.


The Towel Jesus Held in His Hands



For centuries, there have been those who seek Holy Grail, the cup Jesus used at the last supper. Others claim to have a piece of the cross on which Jesus died. One church treasures what it believes to be Jesus’ burial shroud. If I could find or have some relic, some memento of Jesus’ life, I think it would be the towel he tied around his waist and used to dry his disciples’ feet after washing them.

Imagine holding in your hands the towel Jesus held in his hands… Imagine having the towel that dried the feet of the apostles, even of Peter who protested his Master’s servant gesture… Imagine tying around your own waist a towel, woven of cotton, yes, but also woven through with the love and humility of Jesus, the love and humility of our God, who did not hesitate to come on bended knee to serve us who, by every standard, are undeserving of such love…


Jesus Our Passover Lamb

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2015

The first reading (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14) is a description of the first Passover meal. A lamb was sacrificed during the afternoon for each family. Its blood was smeared on the doorposts and lintel of the house to protect and save its occupants when the firstborn of the Egyptians died that night. That evening after sunset, during the Passover meal, the lamb was eaten by the family celebrating the Passover. It was not just that a lamb was sacrificed, but the lamb had to be eaten by the family. Not only that, but all Jews in the following centuries who celebrate the Passover see themselves as present spiritually with those who celebrated that first Passover.


When We Receive Communion…



When we receive communion, we receive the Lord offering Himself for us at the Last Supper, on the Cross, and giving us His Life at Easter. The Eucharist is not just one of many ways of praying to the Lord, or of cultivating His Presence. Praying in our homes, in the car or wherever, every day is wonderful and necessary. But the Eucharist is more than that. Focusing on the presence of Jesus in our lives is important and necessary, but the Eucharist is more than that. Reading the Bible, praying the rosary, and all the spiritual practices that we might do to keep us centered on Christ are wonderful and necessary, but the Eucharist is more than these.

HOMILIES (18 Videos)
MUSIC (10 Videos)

Good Friday

Palm Sunday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  | Easter Vigil  |  Easter Day


Good Friday is the day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Catholics are joined by almost all other Christians in solemn commemoration on this day. It is also a legal holiday around much of the world.

During Christ’s last few hours on the cross, darkness fell over the whole land. Jesus was given a sponge with sour wine mixed with gall, a weak, bitter painkiller often given to crucified victims.

Prior to death, Jesus spoke His last words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This line is the opening of Psalm 22, and it may have been common practice to recite lines of songs to deliver a greater message. Properly understood, the last words of Christ were triumphant. Guards then lanced Jesus’ side to ensure He was dead.

At the moment of Christ’s death, an earthquake occurred, powerful enough to open tombs. The long, thick curtain at the Temple was said to have torn from top to bottom.

Following the incredible events of the day, the body of Christ was removed from the cross and laid in a donated tomb, buried according to custom.

The events of Good Friday are commemorated in the Stations of the Cross, a 14-step devotion often performed by Catholics during Lent and especially on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross are commonly recited on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. Another devotional, the Acts of Reparation, may also be prayed.

Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church. Traditionally, there is no Mass and no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. A liturgy may still be performed and communion, if taken, comes from hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent. Altars are left bare.

SOURCE: Catholic Online Youtube Channel / LEARN MORE

Good Friday Resources

READINGS: Is 52:13—53:12, Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25, Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9, Jn 18:1—19:42

Good Friday Homilies


The Truth About Everything

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2015

Message: The cross unlocks the code – who we are, why God created us.

For this Good Friday homily I will use a quote from Fr. Richard Neuhaus. I preface the quote with a sketch of his life: Born in Canada, he studied in the United States to become a Lutheran minister. In the sixties he accompanied Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement. He also saw the importance of civil rights for another group – the unborn. He coined the phrase, “every unborn child should be protected in law and welcomed in life.” In 1990 Pastor Neuhaus joined the Catholic Church and a year later he was ordained a priest. Until his death in 2009 he was considered one of the most influential Christian leaders. He wrote brilliantly on the relationship between religion, culture and politics. Notwithstanding his wide range of activities, he kept his focus on Jesus and the cross. One of his best books is “Death on a Friday Afternoon” – a meditation on Jesus’s final words from the cross. From that book here’s the quote I promised you:

“If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is quite simply the truth about everything.”

The cross is, quite simply, the truth about everything. The cross, you know, is the first letter in God’s alphabet. When God created the world – when he sparked the Big Bang – at that first moment of creation, God saw the cross: That God, the Creator of the universe, would become man in Jesus and die on the cross.


At the Cross, Her Station Weeping



“Stabat mater dolorosa juxta Crucem lacrimosa dum pendebat Filius”  “At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to her Son to the last.” One of the best loved hymns that dates from the 13th century, sung between the Stations of the Cross, situates our Lady at the scene of her Beloved Son’s crucifixion. The hymn reminds us that Mary is here with us this Good Friday as she was on that first…

But our Lady should not suffer alone. She does not suffer alone. The hymn Stabat Mater invites us to share in her suffering. We are to contemplate with her the sufferings of Christ, recognising God’s great love for us in His willingness to bear the sins of the world, our sins. And not just to meditate upon Christ’s crucifixion, but we, like Mary and with Mary are called, to share in His suffering, to bear the cross with Him.


A Time to Glory in the Cross



Last night we remembered that Jesus is the Lamb of God and that in the blood of his covenant, the angel of death passes over us, saving us for life forever with God. This night we remember how Jesus, the Lamb, was slain on the wood of the cross so that his blood, shed for us, might mark not our doorposts but our souls, that we might be washed in the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who takes away our sins, who takes away my sins and yours — that we might know the love God for us.

This night, then, is not a time to pity Jesus but rather a time for us to glory in the Cross of him who spared nothing in giving himself for our sakes. In a few moments, we will come forward to venerate the Cross of Jesus. It will be a time to praise God for the mercy shown us in Jesus’ love…

  • a time to lay down our burdens at the foot of the cross of him
    who has already carried them for us…
  • a time to remember that Jesus asks us
    to shoulder the burdens of those who suffer today…
  • a time to remember that we have been marked
    with the blood of the Lamb of God…

The Passion of Jesus Moves Us to Repentance

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2004

I think it would be fair to say that we cannot even imagine how much Jesus suffered for us. One help at understanding Jesus’ Passion and what he did for us is the movie The Passion of the Christ. One detail from that movie that never appears on screen helps us to begin to imagine what Jesus did for us. During the scourging at the pillar, a shield hidden from the camera protected Jim Caviezel’s back who plays Jesus in the film. But during one blow the Roman soldier missed the shield. The pain was so intense that Jim Caviezel was not able to cry out; he lost his breath. The shock was so much that he cut his hands on the chains holding him to the pillar. Afterwards, the make-up artist modeled the other wounds on his back on that real wound.


The Power of the Cross



The work begun by the Lord must be continued by us, his disciples. We share in the Power of the Cross by merging our lives with our Savior’s life. That is what it means to be a Christian. When we venerate the Cross, as we will in a few moments, we are performing the symbolic action that both recognizes Christ’s Sacrifice and commits us to participate in His Sacrifice. For there are many in our world suffering from sin and the result of sin. There are many who depend on us to make the Sacrificial Love of the Lord a reality. We embrace the cross this afternoon and humbly ask the Lord to let his Power, the Power of the Cross, flow through us for others. And no matter what limitations we each may have, be they our battles against sin in our own lives, battles against the effects of sin in our families, in our society and throughout the world, there is nothing that can prevent the Triumph of Jesus Christ.

HOMILIES (20 Videos)
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MUSIC (10 Videos)

OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL, CARAPICHAIMA (3:53) – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Communications Ministry in collaboration with The Confirmation Class 2019 presents – HOLY WEEK Explained. A short video to assist anyone with questions about Palm Sunday and the Holy Triduum.

Easter Triduum Videos