The Sacred Triduum

All are invited to join us for The Sacred Triduum.  

MAUNDY THURSDAY - March 24th at 7:00 PM with childcare

The evening of Maundy Thursday officially witnesses the end of Lent.  On this night we begin what is traditionally called the Triduum Sacrum, or the Three Sacred Days.  The Service which we celebrate on this night is called The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and recalls the institution of the Church’s liturgy by our Lord on the night that he was betrayed, the night before he died.  This sacred act by Jesus would for ever unite him with his people in his humanity and with his Father in his divinity thus making atonement.  He gave his disciples a moving discourse on their unity and he gave them also the sacrament of unity, Holy Communion, as a concrete expression of his promise to be with them always.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandate:  meaning mandate or commandment.  This comes from the phrase used by our Lord after he washed the disciples’ feet: A new commandment (mandate) I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus himself expressed his love for them in that gesture of humility and service.  In all of the cathedrals and in many churches, the action is repeated as people wash each other’s feet as a symbol of service to others.  The Maundy Thursday Eucharist is a unique blend of joy and sadness.  There is joy because it is the annual remembrance of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament.  But there is sadness here also, because this is a farewell meal overshadowed by the treachery of Judas and the knowledge that suffering and death were waiting for Jesus.  This Eucharist is like no other, it has no formal ending (no blessing) and it continues into and is finally concluded at the Good Friday Liturgy.  Sufficient wafers are consecrated on Maundy Thursday for those who attend the Good Friday Liturgy.  After the faithful have received Holy Communion, The Blessed Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose where it is reserved until tomorrow.  Then the sanctuary is stripped as a symbolic reminder of the stripping of Jesus.  Then a watch is kept before the Blessed Sacrament and we recall our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We stay with him until his arrest.  We stay with him as he asked the disciples to do, to watch and pray.

GOOD FRIDAY - March 25th at 7:00 AM, 12:15 PM, 7:00 PM with childcare

On this day the Church’s liturgy is bereft of ceremonial refinement.  The sanctuary is unfurnished.  The stark wood of the altar points us to Calvary.  The ministers enter without ceremony.   The first part of the Service consists of readings and these culminate in the reading of John’s Passion Gospel.  The solemn prayers follow the Gospel.  During these ancient biddings we pray for the Church and for the world.  Finally, the Blessed Sacrament is brought from the Altar of Repose and all receive Holy Communion, thus ending what was begun last night.  Although our hearts feel as bereft as the church building looks bleak—nevertheless we end on a note of subdued triumph.

THE EASTER VIGIL - March 27th at 6:30 AM

This is the great climax of Holy Week and the whole Christian year.  It is the Feast of Feasts when the Church joyfully hails her risen Lord.  Here we proclaim and celebrate the central fact of our faith—that Jesus has triumphed over death and lives among us.  On this Saturday night at the beginning of the Service the church is in darkness:  it is the end of the crisis which began on Palm Sunday when we traced our Lord’s path to Jerusalem, to betrayal and death.  Now the Church changes its identity from Jerusalem to the Tomb of Jesus and so, like the women who went to the Tomb, we wait outside.  The Resurrection is symbolized by the kindling of the new fire, a small fire lit outside the church and from which the Paschal Candle is lit.  This candle is then carried into Church with the cry “The light of Christ.” The Exultet is then sung and we hear readings from the scriptures and the psalms telling of God’s salvation to his people.  This leads us to the blessing of the baptismal water and everyone then renews their baptismal vows.  The Gloria is sung and the church bells ring out with Joy!  The resurrection celebration reaches its climax in the first Eucharist of Easter.  We celebrate the new life which is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Alleluia!

Submitted by Mother Mary