Triduum. What is it? Here's what we learned from our research: 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 Triddum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which reaches its point at the Easter Vigil and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. Often, there is confusion about how that block of time can be counted as three days. The traditional Jewish practice of counting days from sunset to sunset is used during 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 Pioux XI in 1955 restored the Triduum liturgies to their rightful place as the culmination of the entire liturgical year.
Although we talk of the three days, our Triduum prayer is best understood as one liturgy in three interlocking movements. The death and resurrection of the Lord cannot be separated. The meaning of these days is distorted when we imagine that the liturgy re-enacts the final events in the life of Jesus in a sort of historical review. We miss the point in that case. The mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection is a present reality, the boundaries of time, and the boundaries of death, have no power here.
Our past, present and future are irrevocably marked by our own immersion into this mystery through baptism. we wash one another's feet, reverence the cross, light fires in the night and proclaim the stories of our salvation, with an awed awareness that this is what it means to be baptized. The Easter Vigil then is the premier time to welcome new members into the church through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
The Holy Thursday is the opening of the Triduum, It explores Jesus' command of love and service. The central element of this gathering is the symbol of the washing of one another's feet as a sign or symbol of our connection of the Eucharist with Christian service: "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory."
At the end of this evening, the sanctuary is emptied, and the Eucharist will be reserved in the daily chapel continuously until Friday evening for quiet prayer.
The Holy Thursday is also the beginning of the Paschal Fast. this fast and abstinence, which ideally is observed from Thursday evening until the end of the Easter Vigil, is not the penitential fast of Lent (which is over), but the fasting of anticipation (like the fast before Communion).
On Good Friday, we observe the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion and Death. Because the Lord's passion, suffering, and death won salvation for sinners, the day is called "good," and this part of the Triduum reflects on love as much as loss.
Central to this day is the proclamation of the Passion according to John, and the veneration of the Cross. this ritual action reminds us of the "crosses" in our own lives; by embracing them, we participate in the Paschal Mystery.
On Holy Saturday, we observe the Easter Vigil. This is considered the climax of the Triduum, the highest point of our liturgical year. this liturgy begins in the front of our Church as we gather around the new Easter Fire, which will be blessed and used to light the Easter Paschal Candle, a sign of the risen Christ in our midst throughout the year.
Inside the Church, we gather for an extended Liturgy of the Word, listening to the salvation story which leads us to the resurrection.
At the height of the Vigil, the Elect (or catechumens) will be baptized, and they celebrate the new life coming into our Church by gathering around the table as the Body of Christ.
On a side note, this Holy Thursday evening at seven, my wife Freny and I attended what we call the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper at St. Paul's Catholic Church, our parish. (We volunteered as greeters, this time.) As expected, the church was full of the faithful guests/visitors, and parishioners presumably from the four clustered parishes (St. Paul's, St. Mary's, Resurrection, and Holy Angels) in which Rev. Fathers David and Chris are the current pastor and parochial vicar, respectively. The former was the main celebrant/homilist, while the latter was the co-celebrant.
One of the main features of the event was the washing of the feet of those chosen twelve parishioners, young male and female adults and older ones combination from the clustered parishes mentioned above by our pastor. There were solemn prayers and singing led by the church's choir. There was also the offering of gifts. Likewise, there was also the procession of the Eucharist, after the Holy Communion. Then, we left the church quietly.
On Good Friday evening, we parishioners will gather again at St. Paul's to "relive" the Passion of our Lord. It's not really a Mass, for we don't celebrate any Masses between Holy Thursday night and the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday night.
From my family to yours, Happy Easter!-chris a. quilpa, 29 Mar 2013