March 26, 2013 – Members of the university community along with neighbors and friends will gather this week on campus for religious observances and musical performances leading up to Easter on March 31.
Holy Week officially began with Palm Sunday on March 24, but the week’s centerpiece is the celebration of the Easter Triduum, the three-day period of prayer that begins Thursday in Dahlgren Chapel with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Ties with Rome
“At that Mass, there will be the traditional washing of the feet, which is re-enacting how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples,” says Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., vice president of mission and ministry.
While the Georgetown community is having its own Mass, O’Brien notes, the new pope will be washing the feet of incarcerated youth held at a juvenile detention center in Rome.
“Above all it’s our call to serve the most vulnerable and most poor,” he says.
On Good Friday, the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and the Veneration of the Cross will be held at 3 p.m. in Dahlgren Chapel, and the Easter Vigil will begin in Dahlgren Quadrangle at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
“The vigil is the most ancient liturgy or service in the Church,” O’Brien says.
The vigil begins at sundown with the lighting of an Easter candle from which congregants light their own candles after processing into a darkened Dahlgren Chapel. The vigil symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
“It’s about bringing Christ’s light into our world – conquering sin and death, conquering the darkness of the tomb,” says O’Brien. “This, in the end, brings us joy.”
Prayer and Sacrifice
Georgetown also celebrates Holy Week with a musical concert by Modern Musick, featuring mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead, tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the atrium of Wolfington Hall.
“The music department has collaborated with the university’s Jesuit community for the past three years to bring together the music of Holy Week to the Georgetown community,” says Anthony DelDonna, associate professor of musicology at Georgetown.
The Tuesday evening concert – Salve mi Jesu, or Music for Holy Week, will feature works from the Baroque period, including composers Antonio Vivaldi, William Byrd and Johann Christoph Bach.
“[The concert] will open with a sonata written for Holy Week by Vivaldi that evokes feelings of reflection, prayer and sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice of Holy Week,” DelDonna says. “
The Catholic Church shares Holy Week with other Christian faiths, and the week also happens to coincide with Passover.
“These days remind us of the reality of human suffering past and present. Our ancestors in faith experienced bondage in Egypt, whose story Jews will recount ...” O’Brien says. "We are aware that today the people of God suffer violence and captivity in too many ways, in so many places in our world, including in Egypt and in Syria. These days are a time of solidarity with them -- in prayer and in a re-commitment to a faith that does justice."
The week concludes with Easter Sunday Masses on March 31. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on May 5.