If you have celebrated Triduum even once, you know why it’s consider the most sacred time in the Church year.
Celebrating the Triduum in Different Ways
The flow of these three days shifts dramatically with each liturgy’s readings, symbols, music, and meaning. It begins with the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washing of feet on Holy Thursday and then moves to the somber proclamation of the Passion and veneration of the cross on Good Friday. Holy Saturday begins in quiet recognition of Jesus in the tomb and then bursts into light with the start of the Easter Vigil. A fire is lit, the Exultet is sung, and the Alleluia, silenced during the forty days of Lent, bursts forth in an exclamation of glory and praise. The Easter dawn breaks forth with unbridled joy as we celebrate anew the risen Christ.
My years in parish ministry afforded the opportunity to not only attend all of the liturgies of the Triduum but also to help plan them. As director of the RCIA I came to an enhanced awareness of the link between Baptism and the celebration of the Vigil. At other times, when I have been unable to attend all of the liturgies, I have taken note of the celebration of the Triduum in different ways.
Holy Thursday opens up a deep appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist and the call to service that is intrinsic to being “in communion” with one another. It is a good day to reflect upon the small “foot washings” I receive from family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, and even perfect strangers.
Good Friday draws me towards those who carry heavy crosses of grief, anxiety, fear, and the effects of violence, xenophobia, racism, and other forms of human injustice and indignity. It brings recognition of the reality of suffering and the importance of not glossing over it with platitudes or shallow rationalization.
A few years ago, while my husband Ron and I were on a road trip across the country, we spent Holy Saturday at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Moving deep into the caves, past the “twilight zone” – the point where all natural light is swallowed in darkness – I had a visceral sensation of the tomb where Jesus lay suspended between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, between midnight darkness and the light of a new dawn.
I have many lovely associations with Easter Sunday, both in celebrating with my parish community and with my family. It is the pinnacle of the Church year and for good reason. On this day and throughout the Easter season, we revel in the meaning of the Resurrection - life emerging from death, grace flowing freely and transforming suffering into unbridled joy.
Wherever and however you celebrate it, I hope you are able to immerse yourself in the beauty, the majesty, and the mystery of the Triduum.
…For families. Learn more about the Triduum and the symbols and meaning of each of these three sacred days. Then plan ways to celebrate this sacred time in your home and parish.