The Easter Triduum

The Easter Triduum

Since Ash Wednesday, when Lent began, we have been preparing for Easter. But Lent, as many believe, doesn't end on Easter Sunday. It ends when the Easter Triduum begins - on Holy Thursday. The Triduum encompasses the three days - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday - when we celebration the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

On Holy Thursday we remember the Last Supper. Jesus gives us the Sacrament of the Eucharist…

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)

Jesus then washes the feet of his disciples as an example of the service to which we are all called. At the Holy Thursday Mass the presider, and oftentimes other members of the parish, wash the feet of all those present who wish to participate.

The only Masses celebrated on Holy Thursday are in the evening. No daytime masses are scheduled anywhere within our universal church except the evening mass, which marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum.

On Good Friday we remember the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. There are a variety of services held on Good Friday, from the solemn Liturgy of Good Friday - where the Passion of Christ is proclaimed and the opportunity to venerate the cross given - to the Living Stations of the Cross. The parish I used to attend had a Tenebrae service that was one of the most powerful Good Friday services I've ever experienced. Tenebrae is Latin for "darkness" or "shadows" and its purpose is to recreate the emotional aspects of the passion story through narration, meditation, prayer and song. With the telling of the story and the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross, candles are extinguished; one at a time after each time Jesus speaks from the cross until all candles are out and the church is in darkness. Then a loud noise is made to symbolize the earthquake at the time of his death. All leave in quiet and darkness. The light of Christ doesn't burn again until the Easter Vigil.

Easter Vigil is when we proclaim with fire and song that Jesus Christ, our Lord, has risen. The Vigil Mass is long, but is one of the most amazing Masses of the year - at least in my experience. Easter Vigil is when we welcome many who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church into full communion with us.

Easter Sunday is just part of the story. To experience the fullness of the Easter story - the Easter Triduum - the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, give yourself the awesome gift of attending the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, a service on Good Friday and either the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Mass.

What Every Catholic Needs to Know About Lent, Triduum, and Easter: A Parish Guide to the Paschal Season (Parish Guide to the Incarnation Season) -- Buy from Amazon

© Peace in Christ,
Melissa Knoblett-Aman

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