The Sacred Triduum
April 7, 2020
Message from the Pastor
Fr. Terry Hamilton
The Sacred Triduum
The second half of Holy Week brings us to what is referred to as The Triduum. The most accurate translation of this Latin title is “The Three Days.” It begins at sundown on Holy Thursday and continues through sundown on Easter Sunday. From a liturgical perspective Lent technically ends with the beginning of the Triduum which then is a single celebration extending over these three days when we celebrate the fundamental mystery of our faith and what it means to be a Christian and a member of the Church.
Holy Thursday is framed around the Jewish Passover which Jesus celebrated that evening with his disciples. For them it literally became His Last Supper before his passion and death. Often this day is called Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum which means a command. That holy night Jesus gave the command that His disciples should celebrate the Eucharist – “Take and Eat and Drink” and “Do this in remembrance of me.” An additional command of the Lord that night was that we should wash one another’s feet in a spirit of service – “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
The sacrament of the Eucharist is of course central to who we are as Catholics. The institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and the ministry of the priesthood are two gifts from God that we commemorate on this holy night. This year since this Mass will be celebrated without a congregation, the washing of feet and the traditional procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose will not take place. However, in our “domestic churches” a special prayer before our evening meal thanking God for the wonderful gift of His Body and Blood – and also remembering the call that we have to serve and help one another – in other words living out the washing of the feet – would be most appropriate.
Good Friday is a day like no other on the calendar. It is a day centered around the cross and the suffering and death of Jesus. We pray in profound gratitude for such great love on the part of our Savior. The liturgy for this day brings with it a certain simplicity. A Liturgy of the Word includes the proclamation of the Passion according to St. John. The ten intercessions are prayed for the needs of God’s Church throughout the world. The Adoration of the Cross follows where each person is invited to show their reverence for Christ crucified. The service concludes with reception of Holy Communion.
It has been the custom of the Church for centuries to observe what is called the Tre Ore – the three hours from noon until 3:00 p.m. when Jesus hung upon the cross. Perhaps in our “domestic churches” we can set aside some quiet time during those sacred hours. To pray the Stations of the Cross together, read the Passion from St. John’s gospel or pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary could be possibilities for observing Good Friday – doing so in the presence of the cross that we have in our homes.
Holy Saturday is a day of waiting, hoping and preparing for the action of God. We are sitting by the tomb waiting for the Resurrection. The “domestic church” could be busy today preparing for an Easter meal if that is possible this year and coloring Easter eggs and making Easter baskets.
The Great Easter Vigil normally begins outside the Church with the lighting of the Easter fire and the beautiful experience of the light of Christ growing in intensity as our own candles are lit from the Easter candle. The Liturgy of the Word is celebrated which tells the history of our salvation, catechumens are baptized, new Catholics are welcomed into the Church – and with music and song we proclaim that Christ is Risen! This year of course the Vigil Service will be modified – but we will bless in our private Mass the Paschal Candle and the new Easter water which will be waiting to welcome us when we return for our first Mass together when the current restrictions are lifted.
All of this leads to Easter Sunday when we sing joyfully that the Lord is Risen and we say "yes" to our faith in Jesus as we renew our baptismal promises!
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