With the Easter holiday fast approaching, Sacred Heart Catholic Church is preparing for the many services involved in Holy Week, which started off with Palm Sunday on March 24.
“Well it (Holy Week) starts with Palm Sunday, and we had that already,” Pastoral Minister Tammy Norcross said. “The next big celebration will be Holy Thursday. We’ll celebrate Holy Thursday with a service at 7 p.m. In that service, we commemorate the Last Supper, and during that service we also have a procession of the holy oils that are used throughout the year. We receive those oils from the bishop.”
The holy oils she is referring to are made up of three kinds of oils.
“The oils are used for anointing of the sick. “We have three kinds of oils,” Norcross said. “For the oil of the catechumens, that oil is used in the preparation of baptism. The other oil is the Sacred Chrism. The Chrism is used for baptism, for the ordination of a priest, deacon, or for confirmation.”
Norcross said the Bishop consecrates the oil and they “have a special procession.” She also said they display the oils all year.
“We get a new supply (of oils) every year,” Norcross said.
Another important part of Holy Thursday is honoring the moment when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.
To commemorate that moment, Norcross explained, the priest and deacon wash the feet of a couple of people in attendance to demonstrate their commitment to serve as Jesus did.
Out of all the activities on Holy Thursday, Norcross said she enjoys Thursday’s Garden of Repose.
“We progess out of the church with the communion into a what we call a Garden of Repose,” Norcross said. “Repose would be a resting place where we take communion there. People are also invited to stay and pray in that garden. It reminds us of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gesemity.”
There will be no worries about dealing with the outdoor elements as Norcross said the garden will be inside.
One of the major milestones in Christian history is when Jesus was crucified on Good Friday. To honor his sacrifice, members are invited to carry the cross as Jesus did.
“The main thing that is different for us on that day is it’s a little more somber in our liturgy,” Norcross said. “The (other) main thing that’s different at that liturgy is we invite people to venerate the cross.”
Although Holy Week has many services, for Catholics, the Easter Vigil on Saturday is the biggest part of the week.
“For the Catholic Church, the Easter Vigil is the biggest thing, and that’s Saturday, the night before,” Norcross said. “Our Mass, at the Vigil starts at 8 p.m., and we start outside with the Easter Fire, weather permitting. We start the Easter Fire and light our Paschal Candle, which is our big Easter candle. That candle represents represent Christ as the light of the world. People (re-enter) into the church, and it’s dark. (Only the) light of Christ is leading the way into the dark church. Showing how Jesus overcame darkness, how the light of Christ overcomes darkness of death, sin and evil.”
Norcross said the sight of seeing a room lit by candles is very uplifting.
“So they are lit off that Easter candle, so that light just spreads through the dark church, and everybody is just holding a candle,” she said. “It’s really pretty awesome.”
At the Easter Vigil, Norcross said attendees are reminded of their salvation history, which covers Creation to Christ resurrection. People are also invited to renew their baptismal commitment.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church invites the community to join in the the events celebrating Holy Week. The church is located at 1115 South Eighth Ave E. For more information, call the parish office at (641) 792-2050.
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.