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The Holy Triduum: Celebrating the Mystery of Easter

By Nathan Costa, Assistant Director of Music & Liturgist

The Holy Triduum (Latin, for “three days”) comprises the most important celebrations of the entire Christian calendar. These Three Days conclude our 40-day Lenten journey of “prayer, fasting, and mercy-giving” and of “practicing resurrection” in reflection upon our baptismal promises; these days embark us upon another journey that follows Jesus’s Last Supper to his passion, death, and resurrection. We do not re-enact these moments during the Triduum—these events of our salvation happened once and for all nearly two millennia ago; rather, we remember them and celebrate them and re-present them in our lives and in the midst of these difficult times:

Thursday we remember Jesus’s institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and his command in the ceremony of foot-washing to do as he did for others. We wonder, what does it mean to love fully, selflessly, and sacrificially even in these days of social distancing.
Friday the church goes dark in observance of Jesus’s suffering and death: we pray for the world and sit in meditation and adoration of the cross that has healed and saved us. We place our burdens, shames, and sufferings of this day upon the cross that holds the burdens of the world.
Saturday evening is the first celebration of Easter, the Great Vigil: light is rekindled in the Easter flame, and we tell God’s story of our salvation from the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea to Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. We reaffirm the commitments made at our baptism and the trust we have in an ever-saving God, and we are inspired by workings of the Holy Spirit in our community, as we celebrate Easter joy.

Though three days, the Triduum is one liturgy, one celebration: Maundy Thursday ends with no dismissal but in stripping the altar; Good Friday begins with no greeting but only continues the prayers of the next day; the Great Vigil of Easter picks up with prayer in the night, and we are only dismissed at the end with an Easter acclamation to go forth in love and service: Alleluia!

We welcome you on this journey of remembrance, rebirth, and hope. May it be a promise of new life and blessing for you at this time as we enter the coming Easter Season.