April 20, 2014 A View from the Rectory Window

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The Triduum: Three Days that Define Us

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37)

As I consider the Sacred Triduum, I consider this question of Our Lord on the night of Holy Thursday and I wonder if we recognize that these three days are known as the days that define who we are as Catholics and Christians!

Three days but only one feast: a feast so great that no one day could possibly contain it.

The word Triduum comes from the Latin roots meaning ‘three days’: ‘tri’ meaning three and ‘dies’ meaning days. Although the celebrations are spread over three days it is, essentially, one continuous liturgy that begins with Mass on Holy Thursday and ends with the Vigil on Holy Saturday.

On Holy Thursday at 7pm in Church of the Resurrection, you will notice that there is no ‘ending’ to this Mass – there is no final blessing or dismissal. The liturgy also stresses the “institution of the Eucharist”, the precious Gift that Jesus gave to us of His Body and Blood which has defined us as Catholic people, and the “institution of the priesthood” where Jesus called those who would receive the mandate to shepherd His flock, including bringing the Eucharist to His people. Without a final blessing or dismissal we are invited to remain and “watch and wait with Jesus” until 10pm before the Blessed Sacrament.

Good Friday’s Service at 3pm in Church of the Resurrection has no ‘opening’ or ‘closing’ but contains the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and the receiving of Holy Communion, consecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass. At 7pm in Church of the Resurrection, we will gather outside the Tomb, to pray the prayer of Tenebrae.

The Easter Vigil at 8pm in Church of the Resurrection is the highest point of our Liturgical year. It begins in the darkness of night where Good Friday has left us to emphasize that we are keeping vigil for the coming Resurrection! The darkness also emphasizes the beautiful symbolism in the lighting of the new fire and the passing of the flame from person to person, signaling the Light of Christ moving among us and lighting our lives. In this we are called to take the Light of Christ to the world. There is a rhythm to the Vigil Liturgy which is both comforting and exhilarating. The readings and psalms walk us through our history, each building on the last until the Gospel which proclaims that Jesus has truly risen! At this liturgy we will welcome six women and men into the Catholic faith and it is a beautiful symbol of the endurance of our faith and the hope for our future.

Speaking of darkness, please note that our Easter Sunrise Mass will begin at 5:45am at the beach in Beesley’s Point.

The Sacred Triduum is the telling of our story. It is the invitation to embrace what Jesus has done for us and for all that He has given us. How we respond is also part of the story and how we respond speaks to who we are. Will you make time in your busy schedule to spend but “one hour with Jesus” this Easter?

Fr. Pete