Photos and Meditations for Holy Week and Easter

The Sacred Liturgies of Palm Sunday through Easter present the foundation and meaning of our Faith. 

In Holy Week, we participate in the most sublime drama of religious history.
—Pius Parsch

Please enjoy a gallery of select photos from 10 years of Holy Week celebrations at Chicago’s St. John Cantius Church.

See our full Holy Week schedule »

Palm Sunday - The Journey Begins

Click to view entire gallery »

After palms are blessed and the great procession approaches the Holy City, the gates are “unlocked” with the Palm Sunday Cross. The doors to the church open, and we enter the Week’s life-changing events with Christ in triumph. But the journey will continue with much to come for the One we praise today—and for us.

The royal banners forward go, the cross shines forth in mystic glow; where he in flesh, our flesh who made, our sentence bore, our ransom paid.
—Vexilla Regis, 5th century

Spy Wednesday - Mercy in Darkness

Click to view entire gallery »

At Tenebrae (Latin for “shadow” or “darkness”), we anticipate Christ’s suffering and death in stark contrast to the dazzling spectacle of Palm Sunday. Gradually all lights in the church are extinguished. The disappearance of the last light is accompanied by the startling strepitus, a great noise and shaking reminding us not only of the earthquake at Calvary but also of the cataclysmic effects of Our Lord’s Sacrifice of Himself.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee! Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.
—‘Ah Holy Jesus’, Johann Heermann, 1630

Holy Thursday - Night of Gifts and a Garden

Click to view entire gallery »

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening brings us the supreme gift of the Holy Eucharist, which immerses us in Divine Love and emboldens us to follow carefully and constantly Our Lord’s command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” The external joy of these gifts seems quickly suspended as we follow Our Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane. The church bells that so boisterously pealed early in this Mass are replaced by the dull, wooden sound of “clackers.” We hear Our Lord’s question to us, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” Can we? Will we?

On the night of that Last Supper, seated with His chosen band, He the Pascal victim eating, first fulfills the Law’s command; then as Food to His Apostles gives Himself with His own hand.
—Pange Lingua, St. Thomas Aquinas, 1520

Good Friday - In the Afternoon it is Night

Click to view entire gallery »

We are startled to see the sacred ministers prostrate themselves before a bare altar. Then a veiled cross is gradually uncovered as “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world! Come let us adore Him!” is sung three times. How do we adore the broken Body of Christ? Are we moved to adore Him? Can we hope, believe?

Tree, which solely wast found worthy the world’s Victim to sustain. Harbor from the raging tempest! Ark, that saved the world again! Tree, with sacred blood anointed of the Lamb for sinners slain.
—Crux Fidelis, 6th Century

Holy Saturday - Midnight Bright as Day!

Click to view entire gallery »

The darkened church, illumined tentatively by the single flame of the Easter Candle, comes to full brilliance as the Resurrection of Christ is proclaimed. The light reveals many things, among them the faithful followers of Jesus who hoped when all hope seemed abandoned. Will you join us for the greatest joy that we can know in this life? As part of the liturgy for this night, we celebrate the new life born from baptismal waters and we renew our own promise to walk the Road to Life Eternal. Hasten with us to an empty tomb that can empty all tombs!

This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin. … This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. 
—Easter Exultet, 5th Century

Easter Sunday - A Promise Kept

Click to view entire gallery »

The tomb of Jesus stands open. The Risen Jesus has come forth in the glory of the fulfilled promise, “I make all things new.” We celebrate this fulfilled promise and confirmed hope with a splendid Liturgy worthy of our Eucharistic King. Holy Week has focused us. Our lives make sense. The future is bright and hope-filled beyond what we can imagine.

Paschal triumph, Paschal joy, only sin can this destroy; From the death of sin set free, Souls re-born, dear Lord, in Thee.
—Ad regias Agni dapes, 1632

Would you accept a recommendation? If so, then do not miss a moment of Holy Week. Altered schedules are a small price to pay for finding the Path of Life and gaining the strength to walk it.

The doors of Heaven open! Finally we experience the goal of our Christian journey—experience, not watch from a distance. You are there! We are there—every step of the way to the Cross and to the Resurrection!

See our full Holy Week schedule »