John Paul II's Holy Week Schedule

Will Preside Over a Full Complement of Liturgies and Ceremonies

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2003 ( John Paul II as usual will bless olive branches and celebrate the Mass of the Passion of the Lord on Palm Sunday, to start Holy Week.

The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published the schedule of ceremonies that the Pope will preside over during Holy Week, when the Church celebrates the key mysteries of salvation.

Next Sunday, Palm Sunday, the Pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m.

He will also meet that day with young people participating in the 18th World Youth Day, whose theme is «Behold Your Mother,» from John 19:27.

The morning of Holy Thursday, April 17, the Pope will preside over the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. That Mass is attended by cardinals, bishops and priests (diocesan and religious) who are in Rome.

The Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord will begin that afternoon, with the concelebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper at 5:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by John Paul II.

The Washing of the Feet of 12 priests will take place immediately after the homily. Meanwhile, a collection will be taken up for those affected by the war in Iraq and will be presented to the Pope during the Offertory.

During the Holy Thursday ceremony, John Paul II also will sign his new encyclical on the Eucharist.

At 5 p.m. on April 18, Good Friday, the Holy Father will preside over the ceremony of the Lord’s passion, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Later, he will go to the Roman Colosseum to preside over the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, scheduled for 9:15 p.m.

The meditations for the event were originally written by John Paul II in 1976 when he was archbishop of Krakow. He used them when he preached for Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia.

Those meditations were published in 1977 under the title «Sign of Contradiction» (see Luke 2:34). A second edition was published in 2001, according to Bishop Piero Marini, the master of papal liturgical celebrations.

«While the Holy Father was thinking of the Via Crucis 2003, the world was disturbed by the news of the threat of imminent war,» the bishop explained in a statement. «Once again, the ‘Prince of Peace’ was becoming a ‘sign of contradiction’: to his offer of love, the world responded with hatred.»

The Holy Father «tried to avert the danger of war with his free and strong voice, with multiple diplomatic initiatives, above all with fasting, prayer and confident recourse to the Virgin,» Bishop Marini said when presenting the Pope’s Via Crucis.

«The Holy Father’s anguished warning was not heard: A devastating war broke out on March 20,» the bishop said. «The 1976 text has not been modified. It was and is tragically ongoing.»

«The earth has become a cemetery: so many men, many sepulchers. A great planet of tombs (…); among all the sepulchers spread around the continents of our planet, there is one in which the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ, conquered death with death,» the Pope wrote.

The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday is set for St. Peter’s Basilica. At 8 p.m. the Holy Father will bless the fire in the atrium. Following the processional entrance into the basilica with the paschal candle and the singing of the «Exultet,» John Paul II will preside over the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

At 10:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 20, the Pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square and impart the traditional blessing «urbi et orbi» (to the city of Rome and the world).

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