“So it's a lot of religion these weeks, but it's a lot of fun. You really get to see the universal Church and the local Church here in Rome, which is just beautiful.”
On Good Friday, the Veneration of the Cross service at the NAC will be celebrated at 3 p.m. by the college rector, Fr. Peter Harman. The Easter vigil Saturday night this year will be celebrated by Cardinal James Harvey. Events for Holy Week and the Easter Triduum will close Sunday morning, with Mass and evening prayer later in the afternoon.
Apart from the main liturgies, there has been daily morning prayer and Mass, and lots of preparation and rehearsals for the major events. Gough, who is playing the organ during the celebrations, has had a particularly busy week practicing with the 40-member seminary choir.
“It's really not that much playing in the end as far as the Triduum goes, because the organ is totally silent from the Gloria on Holy Thursday to the Gloria on the Easter Vigil,” he said. “So the organ goes into the tomb a bit with the Lord.”
But the music at the vigil has to be “very triumphant and joyful,” which takes a lot of preparation to make sure the music matches the magnitude of the celebration, he said.
Deacon Colin Jones, who is from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and is in his fourth year of theology at the NAC, said that for him, the station churches have played a major role in how he has lived Lent.
Though attending all the station Masses, some of which are an hour-long walk to get to, is not required, Jones said this year he tried to make it to as many as possible.
“It's nice to be reminded about how many beautiful churches there are in the city and all the different parts of the city and a different, unique walk every morning,” he said, explaining that on any given day there are usually around 20-30 seminarians at the Masses in addition to the pilgrims and locals who come.
Jones said the long walk to get to some of the churches is “demanding,” but it allows time for prayer, and “it's nice to have the morning for prayer and to have this pilgrimage...with our Lord through Lent.”
The churches and readings are generally the same for every year, and some were selected based on historical significance, so after awhile, he said, “the readings and the church become intertwined,” and it helps give context to the scripture passage being read.
Jones will also be chanting the part of Christ in the Gospel narrative of Jesus Passion on Good Friday, which is taken from the Gospel of John.
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While the Palm Sunday Gospel reading was chanted by three priests, the Good Friday Gospel narrative will be chanted by three deacons, including Jones, who said the opportunity and the hours of practice are “a pretty big blessing, very powerful and very moving.”
Though it's been hard to get the right pitch and tempo for the lines, Jones said being able to sing the lines of Jesus has helped him to go deeper into the events of Holy Week, specifically Jesus' crucifixion and death.
“It just hits you in a different way and strikes more deeply,” he said. “Now we've sung through it a dozen times or so, so the words just get deeper every time, and you let them resonate a little bit more. And the more comfortable we become with it...we're able to make it more of a prayer and those lines really hit you.”
Jones, who will be ordained a priest May 26, in just under a month, said he hopes that when he has a parish, he is able to impart to his parishioners the excitement and depth he's gained about Holy Week from living and celebrating the liturgies in Rome.
And while it's nice to have time to celebrate Holy Week elsewhere or participate in papal liturgies, Jones said he prefers the in-house years, because “you can enjoy more of a restful environment and enjoy hanging out with the guys.”
There are also more opportunities for prayer, he said, adding that “even the preparations are kind of exciting, there's a certain excitement that's in the house, so that's definitely fun having all of that here this week.”