As we begin Holy Week I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the heart of Holy Week, the Sacred Paschal Triduum, the three most solemn days of the entire liturgical year; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil/Sunday. These most holy days celebrate the Paschal Mystery, the passion, suffering, and death of the Lord Jesus, followed by his resurrection, the triumph of the holy cross, and Christ’s decisive victory over sin and death.
The Triduum is celebrated as single event; although in real time it takes three days, it is seen by the Church as one great event. You will notice that we begin with the sign of the cross on Holy Thursday evening at the Mass of the Lord’s supper, but after that, on Good Friday and Easter Vigil, there is no beginning, no sign of the cross – the three days simply flow into one another. We are being drawn into the mystery. The Scriptures for each day provide an on-going narration of the events of Christ suffering, death and resurrection. We literally follow in Christ’s footsteps.
The Triduum is a single feast, the Paschal Mystery, celebrated over three days, and they are the three holiest days of the entire liturgical year.
God gave the Third Commandment, “Keep holy the Sabbath day” (Ex 20:8), which serves as the basis for the Sunday Mass obligation. We should want to go to Mass every Sunday. It is only right to give thanks for the many blessings that we receive over the course of the week, and if we do not nourish our faith regularly, minimally at least once a week, with God’s holy Word and Holy Communion, it is likely that we will become spiritually malnourished and weaker in our faith. If there were ever three days that Christians should want to go to church to pray, it would be the Triduum.
These days rank at the head of the liturgical calendar. They celebrate the most sacred mysteries of our faith, and they ought to be celebrated with the entire community at liturgy.
The Jews have three high holy days, three pilgrimage feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Booths, and those who lived outside of Jerusalem made pilgrimage to the Temple to celebrate these solemn occasions. The three days of the Triduum are our “high holy days,” our “pilgrimage feast.” They are beckoning us, the Christian people, to make pilgrimage from our homes to church to commemorate and honor how the Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends, for our salvation.
The Triduum is ultimately directed toward the Sacred Solemnity of Easter. The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us: "Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor." The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and the kingdom of God enters into our time.
"Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter "the Great Sunday" and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week "the Great Week." The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him." (CCC #1168, 1169)
I encourage you to reserve the time and make this coming week holy and prayerful. Rearrange your schedule if necessary. Take some personal time off from work. Suspend errands or jobs around the house. Drop everything. Plan to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
“Why did you suffer for me, dear Jesus? For love! The nails…the crown…the cross…
all for the love of me!” -St. Gemma Galgani
Please remember that masks are required for all liturgies.
The Sacred Triduum
At the Last Supper Jesus instated the Sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.
· A reminder that there will be no sign up or ropes for Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 pm.
On Good Friday we celebrate Jesus’ salvific death on Calvary for our redemption.
· A reminder that there will be no sign up or ropes for Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross at 12 noon and 7:00 pm. and for the Solemn Service of Good Friday at 3:00 pm.
Easter (Saturday Vigil, Easter Sunday)
The Easter liturgies celebrate that Jesus has conquered sin and death as He rises from the dead and gives us the hope of our resurrection.
· A reminder that there will be ropes for the Easter Vigil and 8:00 am. Easter morning Mass, and no ropes and no sign up for the 9:30 am. and 11:00 am. Easter Masses.