HOLY WEEK

Western Christendom looks ahead to Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, this year celebrated on March 30, with observance of Palm Sunday this Sunday and Good Friday March 28.

BACKGROUND: The New Testament Gospel accounts of the last days of Jesus' earthly ministry, beginning with his entry into Jerusalem with palms waved by a crowd and spread in his path, inform the Palm Sunday services and other Holy Week observances.

CELEBRATIONS: Besides special music or dramatic presentations this Sunday and during the week, some churches will have Maundy Thursday observances. The evening rites commemorate the Last Supper, a final meal of Jesus with his disciples as described in Gospel accounts. Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum , which means "commandment" and refers to Jesus' directive to love others "as I have loved you." The "seven last words" of the dying Jesus, the subject of music and meditations on Good Friday, are utterances drawn from the Gospels of Mark (1), Luke (3) and John (3). Community prayer breakfasts and special services recall the sorrow of the Crucifixion while anticipating the joy associated with the coming celebration of the Resurrection.

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