Easter Sunday: Easter Mass – Jerusalem

Background: There are quite a few Catholic masses on Holy Week but this one, on Easter morning, is the most important. The final large mass on Holy Week commemorates Christ’s resurrection at the place where the Catholics and Orthodox believed it to have happened. In short, it celebrates the most important event in Christianity at the most important place in Christianity. The mass starts out like all the other masses during Holy Week. It begins with procession of the Latin Patriarch and priests entering the church (1-4), continues on to the mass (4), which takes place in front of the edicule, and ends with an Easter procession which circles the edicule three times (5-7) before ending.

Impressions: This was the coolest mass I’ve been to. As it is the most important and is attended by hundreds of people, my friends and I arrived early to try to get good spots, right in front of the edicule, but were eventually pushed back and ended up standing in the rear, except for one of my friends who had made it to the front. As we were straining to hear or see anything, a Franciscan monk came up to the four of us and asked us if we would like to take part in the mass and deliver the gifts to the Patriarch. He realized most of us weren’t Catholic when we looked at him blankly and admitted we had no idea what he was talking about. He smiled explained that during masses, people are chosen to present chalices of wine and plates of bread to the leader of the mass (in this case the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem) for his blessing, before bringing them to the altar for distribution. Excited about taking part in the Easter Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we instantly agreed. Soon we, along with eight others, were led into the back room where the monks kept their things and lined up and shown the sacraments in golden vessels.

We were each handed something, either a vessel of “bread” – I think it was more like crackers, water and oil, or a chalice of wine (which I received) and instructed to very carefully walk up to Latin Patriarch, bow and waiting for his blessing, and then bring the sacraments to the altar (in front of everybody), and get out.

All photos of the sacraments are thanks to Yunmin

My friends are the women in the center (first picture), the pink, and in standing next to me in the green.

At the cue we marched out of the room and towards the mass. The first thing I noticed was what I was wearing. Not especially nice for a mass, and definitely not for delivering wine in a golden chalice. The second thing I noticed was the number of reporters shooting film and taking photos. Great. I just didn’t want to trip and fall. The monks had separated the crowd for us and we started to make our way through.

After we received the blessings and delivered the sacraments we quickly made our way down and again to the back of the mass. We met our fifth friend whose reaction was priceless. She said she had made her way to the front of the crowd and was very pleased with her spot, and started to wonder where we were and afraid we would miss out until she looked up and her mouth dropped open. “What the…Is that Silvia up there?” As the mass wrapped up we were given a gift of thanks from the monks (a rosary and an information book), but we definitely felt we didn’t need any reward: the experience was cool enough.

~ by jonathanmtsai on April 27, 2011.

2 Responses to “Easter Sunday: Easter Mass – Jerusalem”

  1. […] If you read anything it should be the posts about the Easter Mass and Miracle of the Holy Fire because they by far the most interesting. Otherwise just scroll down […]

  2. That is. so. cool.

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