Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 19, 1915 when ground was broken for St. Stephen Church, Hamden.
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Q.   Please answer the following questions about Lent and Holy Week. First, why is Holy Thursday called “Maundy Thursday”?

A.   “Maundy” derives from the old French word translating the Latin mandatum. Mandatum means “commandment.” When Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles on the first Holy Thursday, prior to his crucifixion, he said to them, “A new commandment I give you.” (Jn 13, 34) Since ancient times Jesus’ gesture of washing his Apostles’ feet has been practised by the Church; the famed Synod of Toledo (694) required this ceremony of all bishops, abbots, prelates and religious superiors. Today it has been returned to the Liturgy, to be done during the Evening Mass of the Last Supper.

Q.   Is Good Friday called by any other name?

A.   Yes; there are several variants for “Good Friday.” Among some Slavic nations and Hungarians it is also known as “Great Friday.” In parts of Germany it is also Karfreitag (“Friday of Mourning”); in Norway, Langfredag (“Long Friday”). Father Francis X. Weiser, my source here, adds that the “Pasch” (meaning “Passover,” reflecting Hebrew) once designated Good Friday as well as Easter Sunday. Thus Good Friday was called “Pasch of the Crucifixion,” a name still used in portions of the autonomous Ritual Churches, cradled in the Eastern Empire. The Roman Missal refers to “Friday of the Passion of the Lord.”

Q.   I am correct, am I not, that no Mass is allowed on Good Friday? What about Holy Saturday?

A.   Correct. Good Friday is observed liturgically by a Communion Service; no Mass is provided in the Roman Missal, the Sacramentary. Nor is there a Mass for Holy Saturday itself. The first Easter Mass is of course celebrated as the summit of the Easter Vigil, which begins before Holy Saturday is spent. The Roman Missal refers to “The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night.”

Thus there are two days annually when no Mass is offered: Good Friday and Holy Saturday. (The Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening is viewed as just that; namely, the first Easter Sunday Mass.)

Q.   Is the Sunday before Easter Sunday called “Palm Sunday” or “Passion Sunday”?

A.   The Roman Missal calls the Sunday prior to Easter “Passion of the Lord.” Most Catholics call it “Palm Sunday.”

Q.   On Palm Sunday, is it necessary to use palms?

A.   The Blessing of the Palms in the Palm Sunday ritual (found in the Sacramentary) refer to “branches.” Since palms are not attainable everywhere, substitutes include olive branches, box, yew, spruce, willows and pussy willows. (In England and Poland, Palm Sunday is sometimes called “Willow Sunday”; in Lithuania, “Willow Twig Sunday.” (F.X. Weiser, ibid.)

Interestingly, centuries ago the blessing of branches sometimes included flowers; in Spain, the day was named Pascua Florida. Chroniclers note that the State of Florida received its name from the explorer Ponce de Leon because it was first sighted in the Easter Season of 1513.

Blessed palms are often made into crosses to be worn or displayed, according to custom, throughout the year.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.