Topic: Holy Week

Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.'s picture

The Lord God is My Help

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Why did Jesus endure such agony in his passion and death? To save sinners, and to show us how to endure suffering and persecution.

Br. Peter Junipero Hannah, O.P.'s picture

Behold the Cross

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Holy Week is upon us once again.  We are summoned urgently to prayer and spiritual focus, to experiencing with Our Lord his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  My reflection on Palm Sunday gives a picture from the Mount of Olives of the drama to come, the drama of divine redemption in which we are called to participate with Jesus.

Br. Emmanuel Taylor, O.P.'s picture

Return to the Lord your God

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"Return to the Lord" is the call in morning prayer for the next three days. On Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday the Scripture for the Morning Office comes from Lamentations. The poetic text lends itself well to liturgical use. The liturgy proclaims Lamentations with a hauntingly powerful call to repentance. The refrain is repeated: “Return to the Lord your God.” 

It is good to learn repentance through the liturgical proclamation of the Lamentations. When I first heard the Lamentations sung while in graduate school at the University of Washington at the Dominican Church in Seattle, Blessed Sacrament, I was moved to conversion. I mourned my sins and I wanted to cling to the Lord. This is conversion: return to the Lord. There is power in conversion. It moves us from mourning our own sins to clinging to Christ. St. Gregory of Nyssa says in the midst of our mourning Christ becomes our intercessor. We want to cling to Jesus.

We want to seek this conversion not only for ourself, but for our church. The church, St. Ambrose says, commenting on this Scripture, should not forget repentance. However, we must be confident that Christ offers compassion to the Church. St. Gregory the Great points out that leaders in the Church who have fallen also need compassion, but there is often little to be found. We need to mourn for the sins of the Church, but also trust Christ intercedes for Her, offering compassion and, ultimately, salvation. It is time to return to Jesus, our Lord and God.

Br. Boniface Willard, O.P.'s picture

Holy Week at St. Albert's

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Today, with Palm Sunday, Holy Week begins. It is especially at times like this that the more monastic side of our life comes to the fore and all our energy is given to the preparation and celebration of these beautiful liturgies, the high point of the liturgical year and a foretaste of what is to come. For us the brothers, it is a time of intense focus on the liturgy, and it is an exhausting week. But it is also a great joy for us to prepare and participate in the liturgies of Holy Week. It has also been a great pleasure for us in the last few years to have with us in these days the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, who live in Loomis, CA, and who are laying the groundwork for a new foundation one day. And we also invite any who live in the Bay Area and who so desire to join us for the various liturgies of this week. Below is the liturgical schedule for the Triduum and Easter Sunday. May you have a blessed Holy Week and an Easter full of joy and grace.

Holy Thursday:

Tenebrae - 6.30am
Mass of the Lord's Supper - 7.30pm

Good Friday:

Tenebrae - 7.30am
Verneration of the Cross and Liturgy of the Presanctified - 7.30pm

Holy Saturday:

Tenebrae - 7.30am
Vigil Mass - 8.30pm

Easter Sunday:

Lauds - 8.30am
Mass - 9.30am

Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.'s picture

Holy Week - Part 3

Holy Thursday Pilgrimage

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, which commemorates the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, ends with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to a temporary altar of repose away from the sanctuary.

According to popular tradition, in the late 1500's, St. Philip Neri began leading groups of the faithful on pilgrimage to the seven basilicas in Rome – to watch and pray at the altar of repose set up in each. In many parts of the world (including Italy, Poland, and Mexico) the practice of this devotion continues to this day.

At each stop along their journey pilgrims are encouraged to reflect on the seven stops of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion, beginning with his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. After meditating on the appropriate passage from Scripture, one prays an “Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be…” and offers an intention for the Pope. Then one is free to spend a few minutes in private adoration before moving on to the next stop. Usually the pilgrimage ends with a holy hour at the last altar of repose.

Scriptural Meditations for the Seven Stops

1: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)

2: Jesus before Annas (John 18:19-24)

3: Jesus before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:63-65)

4: Jesus before Pilate (John 18:33-37)

5: Jesus before Herod (Luke 23:8-11)

6: Jesus before Pilate again (Matthew 27:22-24)

7: Jesus is scourged, crowned, and led to his crucifixion (Mark 15:15-20)

If you are in the area and would like to make St. Albert's one of your stops on Thursday night, or if you would like to join us for any of our Triduum liturgies, check out the schedule below.

Triduum Schedule at St. Albert's

Holy Thursday, April 1


Mass of the Lord's Supper...7:30pm

(followed by adoration until midnight)

Good Friday, April 2


Stations of the Cross...3pm

Liturgy of the Lord's Passion...7:30pm

Holy Saturday, April 3



Easter Vigil Mass...8:30pm

(followed by a reception)

Easter Sunday, April 4


Mass of the Lord's Resurrection...9:30am


(no public Compline)

Br. Boniface Willard, O.P.'s picture

Holy Week - Part 2

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Tenebrae at St. Albert’s

From the Latin word for “darkness,” Tenebrae is the term given to the liturgical office of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday as they were observed prior to the reform of Holy Week by Pope Pius XII in 1955. Dominicans have continued to pray a modified version of Tenebrae each year as a particular tradition of our Order.

The practice of Tenebrae has roots as early as the 7th century, when those celebrating the Office would do so in almost complete darkness, the only light coming from a large candelabra, called a hearse. While the number of candles on the hearse has varied, today there are usually fifteen tapers.

Although there have been many changes, the contemporary Office of Tenebrae has many traces of the ancient rite. In the contemporary rite, the Office contains five psalms and one canticle. However, there is no introductory verse or Invitatory, and the “Glory to…” after each psalm and canticle is omitted. After each psalm or canticle, a set of candles is extinguished – symbolizing the Apostle’s desertion of Jesus after his arrest in the Garden of Olives – until there is only one left, the so-called Christ candle. During the singing of the Benedictus, this last candle is – in accord with our Dominican tradition – likewise extinguished, symbolizing Christ’s death and burial.

The psalms are separated by three lessons taken from the Book of Lamentations, a collection of poems which grieve over the Babylonian destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the ruin of the people of Israel in 587 BC. By describing the horrible situation which they now endure, the poems exhort the Israelites to mourn for having turned away from God to worship foreign, pagan gods. Each stanza begins with a Hebrew letter. When the Hebrew alphabet is used this way, it is meant to express completeness or fullness; here, the complete and full desolation of Israel. The great “Prayer of Jeremiah,” which ends Tenebrae on Saturday, is a plea to God to relent in punishment and rescue the people, despite what they have done.

One cannot take part in these prayers without being impressed by their simple dignity and majesty. Today, we can make these psalms and lamentations our own. As we pray them, we can seek pardon for our sins, as well as the sins of the whole world. We can reflect on any of the ways in which we have turned away from being “the image and likeness of God.”

If you are in the Bay Area and would care to join us, Tenebrae will be at 6:30am on Holy Thursday, and 7:30am on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.