Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for the Church. It is the week in which the Church commemorates Christ’s death and burial. It is spoken of by ancient writers like St Irenaeus towards the end of the 2nd century and historical documents reveal the custom of Holy Week dated from apostolic times. The Early Church celebrated this “Great Week” with profound sanctity.
Holy Week commemorates and remembers the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth, leading up to Easter. Lent, the season of self-denial is about to come to an end and the total focus of the week is on the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events leading up to it. Holy Week began only a few days ago with Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday is known as The Easter Triduum. It is considered the most solemn part of the liturgical year, the Easter Triduum recounting the last three days of Jesus’ life and the events of his Passion and Resurrection, namely; The ‘Paschal Mystery’.
The Paschal Mystery is the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish Passover (a recollection of how God brought the Jews out of their slavery in Egypt). The spotless lamb was slaughtered at the Passover meal and consumed and that night the angel of death ‘passed over’ the homes marked with the blood of the Passover Lamb, those covered by the Blood were saved. This was the Old Testament prefigurement of Jesus at the Last Supper where he himself became the Paschal Lamb in atonement for the sins of the world.