PALM SUNDAY: We try to have the blessing of palms some place other than in the church. This morning it was cloudy, cool and quite windy so we went into the first floor of St. Michael Hall and had the blessing in a large room there.
Usually if the weather is o.k. we have the blessing outdoors in the front of St. Michael Hall as you see in the picture to the right. We begin a little earlier than on a normal Sunday but still it is usually about 12:00 noon when we finish, Reading the account of the Passion of course takes extra time. On Palm Sunday the Abbot reads the words of Christ, the Prior reads the narrator part and the Subprior the part of other speakers.
HOLY THURSDAY: The Triduum does not begin until the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper at 5:00 PM for us at the Abbey. Our morning schedule is the same as for all days with Vigils at 6:00 AM, Morning prayer at 7:15 AM. However, on this day we have a Penance Service or Service of Reconcilation for the monks, seminarians and guests at 11:00 AM. Usually about eight confessors are assigned to be available at various places in the basilica for confessions. After the noon meal on this day we do not have any more recreation until Sunday after the Easter Vigil. We try to keep a spirit of silence during these days. At the evening Mass which begins at 5:00 PM, the Abbot washes the feet of 12 people. At the end of Mass the hosts that were consecrated for Good Friday are carried in procession to the tabernacle. Until midnight we have adoration of the sacrament. Then at about 7:00 PM we all gather in the student and guest refectories for an agape meal. Everyone is encouraged to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament after this until midnight.
GOOD FRIDAY: On this day, which is a day of fast and abstinence, our meals are very simple. We rise about 6:30 AM, eat a light breakfast in silence and then assemble in the basilica for Vigils and Morning Prayer at 7:50 AM. The students and guests join us for this. It takes a little over an hour. We pray daytime prayer at noon, and then have a light lunch. At 3:00 PM we again gather in the basilica for the Good Friday service. This includes readings, including the reading of the Passion according to St. John, a homily, prayers, adoration of the cross, and communion. After a simple supper, we pray compline at 7:15 PM.
HOLY SATURDAY AND EASTER SUNDAY: Holy Saturday is a quiet day as we await the resurrection on Easter Sunday. We pray Vigils and Morning prayer together at 7:50 AM, daytime prayer at noon, and vespers at 5:40 PM. Meals are all eaten in silence as are those on Good Friday.
And then at 4:30 AM on Easter Sunday morning
we gather outdoors in front of the basilica for the blessing of the new fire and lighting of the Easter candle for 2010. The Easter Vigil takes at least two and a half hours or more. It includes the reading of seven Old Testament readings, the blessing of water, the renewal of baptismal promises. In many parishes this is the night when new members enter the Church, are baptized or make their profession of faith. It is a beautiful ceremony. At the end all go forth with joy in their hearts and ALLELUIAS on their lips.
Many guests are usually with us for these days and the seminarians do not leave for vacation until after the Easter Vigil. They are then off all of Easter Week.
Christ is risen, ALLELUIA. A Blessed Easter to each and everyone of you.