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Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Sacred-Easter Triduum

Today is Holy Thursday, the start of  the so-called Easter Triduum. By the way, what is Triduum? The word Triduum comes from the Latin and means "three days." It is commonly pronounced "TRIH-doo-uhm" and is usually used in reference to the Easter Triduum, the three most sacred days in the church year.

The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil and concludes with the evening prayer on Easter Sunday. The traditional Jewish practice of counting days from sunset to sunset is used during the Triduum. Thus, Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday evening is the first day; Good Friday evening to Holy Saturday evening is the second day, and Holy Saturday evening to Sunday evening is the third day. After centuries of neglect, Pope Pious XII in 1955 restored the Triduum liturgies to their rightful place as the culmination of the entire liturgical year. (From the Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications (1997) by Kathy Luty)

This Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass is held in the Cathedral of every diocese in the morning. On this special Mass the bishop blesses the oils that will be used all throughout the diocese for the rest of the year. These oils will be used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders (ordination of priests), and Annointing of the Sick. Evening Masses are held in Catholic churches all over the world  to commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders. We also hear the Gospel of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. (A number of people in the community will participate in the washing of the feet by the presiding priest.) It's at this Mass, too, that Jesus changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood. He then directed His disciples to carry out this same ritual: "Do this in remembrance of me."
At the end of the Mass, the Eucharist is processed and taken to another part of the church (or chapel). The altar is cleared and parishioners leave the church quietly. This reminds us that we are entering a time to remember the Death of Jesus, a time of great sorrow and pain.

On Good Friday, we relive the Passion of our Lord. This is not really a Mass, for we do not celebrate any Masses between Holy Thursday night and the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday night. The priest enters in silence and lies down to pray before the altar. After a few minutes, he rises and we, parishioners, have an opening prayer. Next, we hear readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament, but the most important reading is the account of the Lord's Passion and Death from the Gospel of John. When we hear of how Jesus died on the Cross, we all fall on our knees for a few minutes of silence. Afterwards, we pray for those who are Catholics, for our pope, bishops, priests, deacons, for all catechumens (those who elected or will be baptized Catholics), for unity of all Christians, for all the Jewish people, for all people who believe (and don't believe) in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our leaders (those in public office), and for everyone who needs our prayers (those in tribulations). Then, we honor the Cross (Adoration of the Holy Cross). We process up to the altar to kiss the Cross as a sign of our gratitude for what Jesus has done. In the last part of the ceremony we receive Communion from the Hosts that were consecrated the night before.
After receiving Communion on Good Friday, we say a final prayer and go home. Our long preparations of fasting and praying, of doing good deeds and listening to the story of Jesus' Life and Death has come to an end. It is now time to wait. (From Celebrating LENT (1994) by Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM Conv.)

The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening is the climax of the Triduum, the high point of our liturgical year. It is the time to welcome new members into the church through baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. We begin the liturgy in the front of the church as we gather around the new Easter Fire, which will be blessed by our pastor, or presiding priest, and used to light the Easter Paschal Candle, a sign of the risen Christ in our midst throughout the year. Once inside the church, we hear the Gospel, Liturgy of the Word, about the salvation story which leads us to the resurrection that proclaims that Jesus is Risen! We hear the great hymn, "Glory to God in the Highest," sung once again, and we all sing the great Alleluia! Usually during the Vigil, the Elect/catechumens are baptized and they join us celebrate the new life coming into our Church by gathering around and receiving the Body of Christ.

Thank YouTube and the uploaders of the videos I embedded with this blog post. As always, thank you, Google and Blogger. Thank you, God, and thank you, Jesus, our Inspiration in life.

Until next time, friends. Thank you for your time. Take care. And, happy birthday to my caring and doting wife! Have a blessed Easter, everyone!-chris a. quilpa, 05April2012

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