HOLY WEEK – AS IT UNFOLDS
Written by Debra Reynolds
Our Religious Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 26th March – Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday is the final day of Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. As on the Friday, there is no Mass offered on this day. The Easter Vigil Mass, which takes place after sundown on Holy Saturday, really belongs to Easter Sunday as, liturgically, each day begins at sundown on the previous day.
The events of the Easter Vigil Mass here in Soller begin with the procession of the brotherhoods to the Three Crosses. As my previous article on the brotherhoods and the processions explains, they leave Ses Escolapies at 7.45 p.m. and make their way up Carrer de Pau Noguera to Cami de Ses Tres Creus. They are accompanied by the faithful and onlookers. Once at the Three Crosses, they follow a series of prayers and there is a short period of quiet contemplation. There are two illuminated statues representing the two people either side of Christ on their crosses with Christ’s illuminated Shroud in the middle. They make their way back down the mountain and into the Church. The members of the brotherhoods each carry lanterns and it is a wonderful spectacle just to watch the lights weaving their way up the mountain from the town. This is a very beautiful procession, allowing opportunity for meditation on Christ’s death and the anticipation of his Resurrection.
The Easter Vigil Mass is the first celebration of Easter and is therefore the most important and beautiful liturgy in the Catholic Church. It is divided into four parts: the Service of Light; the Liturgy of the Word; the Liturgy of Baptism; and, the Liturgy of the Eucharist. With the faithful inside the Church, it begins with all the lights off and the tabernacle empty, reflecting the fact that Christ is in the grave – the Church sits and mourns. Outside a fire is lit and blessed by Father Marià and, from that fire, the Paschal Candle is then lit and blessed. The candle is then processed to the altar. It is the end of the Lenten journey and a sign of Christ, the Light of the World, who has overcome the darkness of sin and death. From the flame of the Paschal Candle, small candles are lit and held by the congregation to illuminate the Church. During the Liturgy of the Word, the story of God’s love for us is proclaimed in readings from the Old and New Testaments. The Liturgy of Baptism then takes place for those who have prepared for Baptism. The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist – a joyous sharing in the sacrificial meal of Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour.