St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar Church : Holy Week Schedule
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In few years, we look at this as the longest Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth. As we enter into Holy Week, the most sacred days for us as Catholics, we are living under quarantine and our country is shut down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Our services will be live streamed at: http://stalphonsachurch.org/live/
Psalm 137:1 says, “By the rivers of Babylon there we sat weeping when we remembered Zion” describes the despair of the exiled Israelites after Nebuchadnezzar II deported them from their lands, after which he had the temple in Jerusalem destroyed. The despair of the Israelites was so great, that they sat weeping at the banks of the river Babylon, longing for a return. Like the Jews’ continued desire to return to Jerusalem, our hearts are desiring a return to our church to worship our God. Let us commit ourselves to God’s enduring Mercy and Love.
Holy Week Schedule
Even though the precepts of the church remind the faithful to confess our sins once a year, and receive Holy Communion during the Easter Season, this time it will be impossible for many of us. Although we cannot celebrate the sacred mysteries at our church this time, I urge each of you to make your homes a “domestic church.” This ancient Christian ideal resonates even more profoundly in this time of quarantine and “stay at home.” This Holy Week will be different. Our church may be closed, but Christ is not quarantined, and His Gospel is not in chains. Even though we cannot worship together, each of us can seek him in the tabernacles of our own hearts.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020: Holy Qurbana 7:00 p.m. followed by Penitential Service
As I stated Sunday, I cannot give general absolution either, the Sacrament of Penance cannot be given through digital/virtual means. Instead, we will be having a penitential service on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 after the Holy Qurbana at 7:00 p.m. We can follow the practical advice that our Holy Father Pope Francis offered us in a recent homily: “Enumerate your sins, ask the Lord for forgiveness with all your heart, and make an act of contrition. Promise him: ‘Later I will confess, but forgive me now.’ And immediately you will return to the grace of God.” During this Holy Week, I urge you to examine your conscience and return to God with your whole heart.
In case of an emergency or urgent need, I am available for confession by appointment.
Thursday, April 9, 2020: Holy Qurbana and Adoration: 7:00 p.m.
We celebrate Jesus’ institution of Eucharist and Priesthood in the upper room on Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. Please remember all the priests and seminarians, especially pray for all the priests who administered you sacraments. Please join via internet live adoration afterwards for an hour. The words Jesus spoke to Peter “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matt: 26:40) resonates with each of us.
As many of you know, this is a special time for St. Thomas Nazaranis as we delight in our unique tradition of “Family Pesaha” celebrations. Please take advantage of this opportunity and do not hesitate to celebrate the long-lived tradition with your loved ones at home while considering the provisions of the state. Enjoy!
Friday, April 10, 2020: 6:00 p.m. Way of the Cross; 7:00 p.m. Passion Narrative & Veneration of the Cross; Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. The Crucified Christ understands the suffering and anxiety we face during the present time. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate the love of Jesus for each one of us. I also remind you it is obligatory to fast, as is required by the church. On Good Friday after the services, we will pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Holy Father Pope Francis has granted a special plenary indulgence to those who pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for an end to this pandemic. To receive this indulgence, you need to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday, be truly sorry for your sins and desire to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as it is possible, and pray for the intentions of the pope.
Saturday, April 11, 2020 9:00 a.m. Holy Qurbana
On Saturday we will be renewing our baptismal vow, recommitting ourselves more devotedly to God and the Church. Therefore, I will bless the Holy Water (puthen vellam) and Fire (puthen theeyu) at the end of the liturgical celebration.
Saturday, April 11, 2020: 7:00 p.m. Easter Vigil Holy Qurbana
Easter Sunday is what we have been waiting for! The fifty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving during the “Great Lent” or Valiya Noumbu was in preparation for the glorious day our hearts and souls in culmination of what we all have been hoping for – in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. This Sacred Triduum concludes on this very day as the Church considers as “Feast of Feasts or the Solemnity of Solemnities.” Regardless of the darkness and despair we face during COVID – 19, “the Great Week” gives us joyful hope and praise to cry out “Alleluia” to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
In these extraordinary and challenging times, I ask you to offer your personal sufferings and sacrifices for those who are sick with the coronavirus and for all those in health care who are risking their lives to take care of them. Pray for all their families and loved ones. Pray for those who are suffering from the loss of their jobs and businesses, and all those who fear for their future. Pray for the many men and women who are risking their health to provide essential services in this time of need.