The reenactment of Jesus’ last days on earth began yesterday (Mar. 29), known in our Book of Common Prayer as the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday. The liturgy began with the Liturgy of the Palms, in which we recreate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The opening joyful acclamations of “Hosanna to the King” stand in stark contrast to the cries of “Crucify him” in the Passion Gospel narrative later in the liturgy. To mark the beginning of Holy Week, the departing procession takes place in complete silence.
Holy Week marks the end of the solemn season of Lent, culminating in perhaps the most significant collection of days in the liturgical year. “The Great Three Days,” also known as the Triduum (literally “three days” in Latin) consists of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
After the dramatic events of Maundy Thursday (ceremonial washing of feet, institution of the Eucharist, and stripping of the altar) and the sorrowful events of Good Friday, Holy Saturday is the commemoration of the day that Jesus lay in the tomb. However, following the Judeo-Christian tradition of beginning feast days at sundown the evening before, we celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter as the commemoration of the resurrection and the First Eucharist of Easter.