Holy Week services throughout the Diocese of Scranton, which recall the passion and death of Jesus Christ, begin this Sunday, Palm Sunday, March 28.

Holy Week services throughout the Diocese of Scranton, which recall the passion and death of Jesus Christ, begin this Sunday, Palm Sunday, March 28.
The liturgies on Palm Sunday will include the blessing and distribution of Palm branches, which play a symbolic role on this day since they were first used to commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. In addition to the Pontifical Liturgy celebrated at 12:15 p.m. by Bishop Emeritus James C. Timlin, Palm Sunday Masses at St. Peter’s Cathedral will also be celebrated at 6:30 and 10 a.m., and 5 p.m.
On the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Masses at the Cathedral will be celebrated at 6:30 and 8 a.m., and 12:10 p.m. On Monday and Wednesday, confessions will be heard at 7:30 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m., and at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Priests serving throughout the Diocese will gather at the Cathedral on Tuesday, March 30, at 4 p.m. for the Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Chrism, at which the Holy Oils used during the conferral of several sacraments throughout the Church year will be blessed. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Apostolic Administrator of the Scranton Diocese, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. All faithful are welcome to participate in the Mass.
During this Mass, priests and deacons, along with lay representatives from Diocesan parishes, acknowledge the Bishop’s role as the unifying symbol for Church governance and pastoral guidance. Priests will renew their ordination promises and receive the Holy Chrism, the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens to be used in the conferral of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.
The three most sacred days of the Church’s liturgical year, known as the Sacred Triduum, begin on Holy Thursday, April 1. Sung Morning Prayer will be held at 8 a.m. at the Cathedral. The Pontifical Concelebrated Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper will begin at 5:30 p.m. Former Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty will be principal celebrant for this commemoration of the Last Supper that Christ shared with his 12 Apostles. Sung Night Prayer will occur at 9 p.m.
The Sacred Triduum is a solemn time of prayer, reflection and preparation for the Church’s central feast of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, and serves as a reminder to the faithful of Christ’s gifts to the apostles on the night before He died: the sacraments of Holy Eucharist, the gift of His own body, blood, soul and divinity; and Holy Orders, the ordained priesthood. It is also the setting at which Bishop Dougherty, assisted by deacons, will perform the solemn and ancient re-enactment of Christ’s washing of the feet of the apostles.
Good Friday, April 2, is the only day of the Church’s liturgical year on which the Church suspends the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as Catholics commemorate the Lord’s Passion, crucifixion and death for the redemption of humanity. It is a day of fast and abstinence.
Good Friday services at the Cathedral will begin at 8 a.m. with Sung Morning Prayer. Following confessions from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the Pontifical Liturgy of Good Friday will begin at 12:10 p.m. Bishop Timlin will lead the service, which is comprised of a unique three-part ceremony of Scripture reading of the Passion of Christ, Veneration of the Cross and distribution of the Holy Eucharist. Stations of the Cross will be observed later that day at the Cathedral at 5:15 p.m.
The observance of Holy Saturday, April 3, will begin at 8 a.m. with Sung Morning Prayer. Confessions will be heard from 10:30 a.m. to noon, and 2 to 5 p.m. The Solemn Pontifical Easter Vigil and Mass of the Resurrection will begin at 8 p.m., with Bishop Timlin as the principal celebrant.
The Easter Vigil ceremony begins in darkness, with a sense of watchful anticipation of the Resurrection of Christ. As this most solemn celebration begins, the priest will bless the New Fire and light the Paschal Candle either outside or in the rear of the church. The focus of the liturgy is on the new life of the Risen Christ.
On Holy Saturday, the 153 people who have participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Children (RCIA) this year will be officially welcomed at Easter Vigil services at many parishes throughout the Diocese. They join tens of thousands of other individuals throughout the country who will become fully-initiated Catholics at Easter this year. Parishes will welcome these individuals into full communion with the Church during the observance of the Easter Vigil.
The most joyous day in the Church year is Easter Sunday, April 4. Bishop Dougherty will be principal celebrant and homilist at the 12:15 p.m. Pontifical Mass of the Resurrection at the Cathedral. Additional Easter Sunday Masses at the Cathedral will take place at 6:30 and 10 a.m., and at 5 p.m.
Belief in the central mystery of the Risen Savior unites Christianity in His promise of life after death that can be achieved despite the suffering and despair of human life. Christians celebrate the Risen Lord’s sacrifice for the redemption of the sins of man after recalling the events in His life which led to His passion and death during Lent and Holy Week. During the Easter season, they renew their hope for eternal life after their own struggles, sufferings and deaths, and look forward to new lives of glory with the Lord.