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The Paschal Triduum

Mar 17, 2016

The Paschal Triduum

The Triduum (three days) begins at the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and continues until Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. The Triduum is one liturgy consisting of mass of Holy Thursday, celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil. There is no final blessing following either the Holy Thursday or Good Friday celebrations.

In the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, we remember the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. The Gospel, from the apostle John relates the account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and telling them to go and do likewise, and so this is the mass that includes foot washing. The symbolic foot washing reminds us that followers of Christ are meant to be servants in the reign of God.

On Good Friday the faithful come together to venerate the cross. The cross is carried into the sanctuary by the priest accompanied by ministers with lighted candles. Father stops twice and intones “This is the wood of the Cross”. Following the veneration, the faithful receive communion. The hosts were consecrated on Holy Thursday. There is no consecration on Good Friday.

The Easter Vigil does not begun before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Easter Sunday. The Easter Vigil begins and ends in darkness. It is a nocturnal vigil, retaining its ancient character of vigilance, and expectation, as the Christian people await the resurrection of the Lord during the night. Fire is blessed and the paschal candle is lighted to illumine the night so that all may hear the Easter proclamation and listen to the word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures. For this reason the Service of Light takes place before the Service of the Word.

The paschal candle is to be made of wax, never be artificial, be replaced each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size that it may convey the truth that Christ is the light of the world. The Paschal Candle is the symbol of the light of Christ, rising in glory, scattering the darkness of our hearts and minds. Above all, the Paschal Candle should be a genuine candle, the pre-eminent symbol of the light of Christ. Choice of size, design, and color should be made in relationship to the sanctuary in which it will be placed.

The Easter Vigil is also the time that the Sacraments of Initiation are celebrated for those who are coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Triduum is often referred to the “Mother of All Liturgies”. Please consider celebrating the Paschal Mystry in the very special way this year.