Starting on Palm Sunday, we embark on what’s known as “Holy Week.”
The last week of Lent, Holy Week, remembers the last week of Christ’s earthly life, beginning with Palm Sunday’s commemoration of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21:1-11).
So, put simply, Holy Week is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
However, Holy Week has quite a few “moving parts” in between, so here’s an overview.
On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19).
Many services on Palm Sunday begin with “the Procession of the Palms,” where worshippers hold palm branches as they process into the church.
Sometimes Palm Sunday is also called/celebrated as “Passion Sunday,” a commemoration of Jesus’ suffering and death. However, Passion Sunday used to be celebrated on the Sunday before Palm Sunday, the fifth and last Sunday of Lent.
Here is the Collect for Palm Sunday:
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon himself our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Want to learn more about Palm Sunday?
- Read “Palm Sunday: A Collect Reflection,” by Joshua Steele
- Read “What They Are Saying about Palm Sunday,” by David Roseberry
- Read all our posts about Palm Sunday
The Oft-Overlooked Days of Holy Week: Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Spy (Holy) Wednesday
Let’s be honest. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday get the lion’s share of the focus during Holy Week. However, Monday through Wednesday ought not to be forgotten!
We don’t really know exactly what happened on the Monday of the original Holy Week. See the Wikipedia page on Holy Monday for more information.
Here is the Collect for the Monday of Holy Week:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Similarly, we don’t know exactly what happened on the Tuesday of the original Holy Week. See the Wikipedia page on Holy Tuesday for more information.
Here is the Collect for the Tuesday of Holy Week:
Lord our God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his back to be whipped and did not hide his face from shame and spitting: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Spy (Holy) Wednesday
OK, so this is cool. Holy Wednesday has traditionally been called “Spy” Wednesday, as a reference to the “ambush” of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. See the Wikipedia page on Holy Wednesday for more information.
Here is the Collect for the Wednesday of Holy Week:
Assist us mercifully with your grace, Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts by which you have promised us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Triduum or “Three Days”
The Paschal (Easter) Triduum (“three days”) begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday (the liturgical day beginning at sundown, just like in the Jewish calendar). The Triduum includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. It ends at sundown on Easter.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper (see Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-25) and Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet (see John 13:1-15).
Although it is debated, the word “Maundy” most likely derives from mandatum, meaning “mandate” or “commandment,” in reference to Jesus’ words: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
Here are the readings for Maundy Thursday (readings in parentheses are optional):
Here is the Collect for Maundy Thursday:
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Want to learn more about Maundy Thursday?
- Read “Maundy Thursday: A Collect Reflection” by Myles Hixson
- Read “What is Maundy Thursday,” by Greg Goebel
- Read “Maundy Thursday: Blessed Humility,” by Greg Goebel
- Read all our posts about Maundy Thursday
On Good Friday, we remember the events leading up to and including the Crucifixion. The Gospel reading for the day is therefore quite long. See John 18:1-19:37.
Here are the readings for Good Friday:
- Genesis 22:1-18 or
- Isaiah 52:13-53:12
- Psalm 22:1-11(12-21)
- or Psalm 40:1-14
- or Psalm 69:1-23
- Hebrews 10:1-25
- John (18:1-40) 19:1-37
Here is the Collect for Good Friday:
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Want to learn more about Good Friday?
- Read “Good Friday: A Collect Reflection,” by Kolby Kerr
- Read “Praying Good Friday Over My Family,” by Jack King
- Read “Good Friday: Do We Still Need a Sacrifice?,” by Greg Goebel
- Read “Good Friday and the Language of Sacrifice,” by Greg Goebel
- Read all our Good Friday posts
On Holy Saturday, we remember the time that Christ spent in the grave.
Here are the readings for Holy Saturday:
- Job 14:1-17
- Psalm 130
- or Psalm 31:1-5
- 1 Peter 4:1-8
- Matt 27:57-66
- or John 19:38-42
Here are the Collects for Holy Saturday:
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.
O God of the living, on this day your Son descended to the place of the dead: Look with kindness on all of us who wait in hope for liberation from the corruption of sin and death, and give us a share in the glory of the children of God, through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.
At the Easter Vigil, we commemorate all of salvation history leading up to the Resurrection!
It’s really pretty amazing. Between covering all of salvation history in a single service, saying “Alleluia!” again for the first time since the beginning of Lent, and celebrating the Resurrection in the early hours of Easter morning, this really is a unique service! Additionally, this is the service at which people were traditionally baptized and welcomed into the Church.
If you’ve never attended an Easter Vigil service, I HIGHLY recommend that you attend one this year!
Here are the readings for the Easter Vigil:
- Genesis 1:1-2:3
- Genesis 3
- Genesis 7:1-5,11-18; 8:6-20; 9:8-13
- Genesis 22:1-18
- Exodus 14:10-15:1
- Isaiah 4:2-6
- Isaiah 55:1-11
- Ezekiel 36:24-28
- Ezekiel 37:1-14
- Daniel 3:1-28
- Jonah 1:1-2:10
- Zephaniah 3:12-20
- Romans 6:3-11
- Matthew 28:1-10
Here is the Collect for Easter Eve (the Easter Vigil):
O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up that Spirit of adoption which is given to your Church in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Want to learn more about Holy Saturday and/or the Easter Vigil?
- Read “Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: Gerald R. McDermott’s Collect Reflections”
- Read “The Easter Vigil,” by Greg Goebel
- Read our Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil posts
On Easter Sunday, we remember and celebrate the triumphal Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! Easter Sunday then kicks off a period of 50 days traditionally known as Eastertide — ending with Pentecost Sunday.
Here are the readings for the principal service on Easter Day:
- Acts 10:34-43
- or Exodus 14:10-14,21-31
- Psalm 118:14-17,22-24
- Colossians 3:1-4
- or Acts 10:34-43
- John 20:1-10(11-18)
- or Matthew 28:1-10
- or Mark 16:1-8
- or Luke 24:1-12 (the Gospel reading depends on which year it is)
Here are the Collects for Easter Day:
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
O God, who for our redemption gave your only begotten Son to die upon the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of death and the devil: Grant us the grace to die daily to sin, that we may live with him in the joy of his resurrection, through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.
Want to learn more about Easter Sunday?
- Read “Easter Sunday: A Collect Reflection” by Joshua Steele
- Read “The Great Fifty Days of Easter,” by Greg Goebel
- Read “Ten Ways to Preach the Easter Sermon” by David Roseberry
- Read all of our Easter posts