These are the highest, holiest days celebrated each year by the Church beginning with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday. It is called the "Easter Triduum" or Paschal Triduum". We celebrate the great Paschal mystery of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
Holy Thursday the Church recalls the Last Supper when Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist. The Lord commands the apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, to perpetuate this offering. So not only are we commemorating the gift of Christ's body and blood, we thank God for the priesthood. After the homily, we witness a representation of Christ's service and charity, as twelve parishioners' feet are washed. Our Lord came "not to be served, but to serve." (Mt. 20-28) After Communion, we experience the beautiful tradition of a Eucharistic Procession to an Altar of Repose where we can spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until 11:00 p.m…. "won't you come and spend an hour with me"?
Good Friday, somber and solemn, the Church meditates on the Passion of the Lord. Notice no holy water in the fonts; a dryness reminding us of our thirst for God, until the Easter water is blessed at the Vigil on Holy Saturday. We enter in silence; the ministers lay prostrate in front of the altar in such grief and sorrow for Christ's suffering. Notice that all singing is done a-cappella – again a 'dryness' until the Great Easter Vigil GLORIA is sung. The faithful pray for the salvation of the whole world, we venerate the Cross, we depart in reverent silence.
The Great Easter Vigil, Why come to the Easter Vigil? To hear our salvation history all in one night! We begin in darkness until we see The Light of Christ from the Easter fire. Extra readings give us the Word and our Salvation History. We witness some of our fellow parishioners come into the faith and receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. We call upon the saints of glory to ask for their intercession. It is a beautiful, exciting night – it is ALL we are as Catholics – all in one night!
Easter Sunday, the promise God gives to each of us who follows Christ, Resurrection! The joy and excitement of the Truth we now know through our Holy Week journey with Christ. The empty tomb that calls us forth to spread the Gospel to all the nations. The beauty that will surround each of us today; Easter lilies, pretty dresses, children's laughter and a shared meal should all remind us that God's Love is abundant and radiant through the Resurrection.
Each one of these holy days is so rich with tradition, ceremony, ritual, beautiful sacred music, signs and symbols. There is no more important time in the Church. Be bold and spend these prayerful hours with your community as a Parish Retreat!
Blessings upon all of you as we commemorate, adore, celebrate, and sing ALLELUIA to the Risen Lord!
Cheryl Manfredonia Director of Sacred Music & LiturgyBACK TO LIST