Dear parish family,
The most intense week in the Christian year begins today. The powerful liturgies of the Church confront us with the violence that we human beings inflict upon one another and our ingratitude toward God, juxtaposed dramatically against the forgiving love of God and the assured hope that Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection offers our world. As we enter Holy Week, we invite you to join us for a rich array of worship and spiritual opportunities at our parish. The complete schedule of these events is available in this bulletin, on bulletin boards and posters around the church, and on our parish website at www.mountcarmelastoria.org.
On Palm Sunday, we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with palms and hosannas. On Monday of Holy Week, our parish will participate with over five hundred other Catholic churches throughout New York City and Long Island in observing Reconciliation Monday. Confessions will be heard by our priests from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, and again from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in in the lower church. On Tuesday of Holy Week, we will celebrate the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Devotion in Spanish at 7:00pm in the lower church, as our priests and deacons will join our Bishop at the Chrism Mass, to be held at that same time at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn. On Wednesday of the Holy Week, traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday”, the Stations of the Cross will be prayed in Spanish in the upper church at 7:00pm.
Our Holy Week worship continues on Holy Thursday, traditionally known as “Maundy Thursday”. We will celebrate the Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:30pm in the upper church. This Mass begins the three most sacred days of the Church year, called the “Holy Triduum” which will culminate with the Easter feast. At the Holy Thursday’s evening Mass, we remember Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, his institution of the Holy Eucharist, his compassionate act of washing their feet, and his “new commandment” to love one another as he has loved us. Following this Mass, we will begin adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight in the upper church. This is an act of love that recalls the final hours of Jesus in Gethsemane Garden. The Vietnamese, English and Spanish-speaking communities of our parish will take turns to lead the prayers and music meditations during the adoration.
On Good Friday, you are invited to join the Stations of the Cross in English at 12:00pm in the upper church. Our Hispanic community will organize a living Stations of the Cross in Spanish at the same time outside the church, with the re-enactment of the Passion of Our Lord on the streets of our neighborhood. As always, hundreds of people are expected to attend. The highlights of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday will be the Veneration of the Cross and the Dramatic Reading of the Lord’s Passion, which will be done in Italian at 2:00pm in the lower church, in English at 3:00pm in the upper church, in Spanish at 7:30pm in the upper church, in Czech at 7:30pm in the lower church, and in Vietnamese at 9:00pm in the upper church. In addition, you are also invited to attend the Seven Last Words of Christ Meditation in Spanish at 6:30pm in the upper church. Hymns, solos and choral music will accompany the readings.
On Holy Saturday, you can bring the food that your family will use to celebrate Easter to the lower church for a blessing during a Prayer Service at 12:00pm. Confessions will be available again from 3:30pm to 4:30pm in the lower church. That evening, our whole community will gather for the Easter Vigil Mass at 7:30pm in the upper church. The Easter Vigil is the Mother of all Christian liturgies, as it is the most important liturgy of the year, commemorating the Resurrection of Our Lord. We will celebrate that Solemn Mass with all the language groups of our parish family. The liturgy that night will begin in the front vestibule of our church, with the lighting of the new fire and a joyous procession into the sanctuary, where the ancient Easter Proclamation or “Exultet” will be sung by one of our priests. On Easter Sunday, our Masses will be celebrated solemnly, following our normal Sunday schedule, accompanied by hymns, choral music and string trio. Please note that there will be no 5:00pm Mass on Easter Sunday.
These services take us on a sacred journey with Jesus: from the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, to Golgotha and the desolation of the Cross on Good Friday, and finally, to the Empty Tomb on Easter morning, to hear the surprising and joyful announcement that “Christ is Risen!”
We hope that you can join us for the full spectrum of worship. These services provide an opportunity to experience more of the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for us and for the world. We also encourage you to consider someone who might be enriched by this opportunity to worship with us—a friend, neighbor or family member—and invite them to come with you.
Looking forward to praying with you, I remain
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. Cuong M. Pham