The Sacred Paschal Triduum
Through his Paschal Mystery, the Lord Jesus redeemed the human race and gave perfect glory to the Father. By dying, Christ destroyed our death; by rising, he restored our life. For this reason, the Sacred Paschal Triduum, when we celebrate the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord, is the high point of the Liturgical Year. The Triduum opens with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continues with the remembrance of Christ’s passion, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. Following the Triduum, we enter the holy season of Easter.
The word Triduum comes from the Latin root for three days; specifically the three days of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. Since the Triduum begins with the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday, day one of the Triduum ends on the evening of Good Friday, the second day ending the evening of Holy Saturday, and the third day ending on the evening of Easter Sunday.
Practices & Devotions during the Triduum
Prayer, Fasting, Works of Charity & Silence
During the Triduum, Christians maintain and increase their lenten practices of prayer, fasting and works of charity.
Good Friday is an universal day of fasting and abstinence from meat. Fasting and abstinence remind us that there are hungers inside of us that earthly things cannot satisfy. We were made for heaven and we will always feel slightly “incomplete” until we get there. C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
During the solemn time leading up to the Easter Vigil, the faithful maintain a prayerful silence in church so that all may enter into the spirit of these great days without distraction. As much as possible, unnecessary work is avoided so that one’s full attention is on the Lord.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Following the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the Blessed Sacrament is transferred to a side chapel. The faithful are encouraged to spend quiet time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting especially on the sufferings and passion that the Lord will endure on account of our sins. Until the Easter Vigil, the Blessed Sacrament remains reposed in the side chapel and the sanctuary is stripped bare as a visible reminder that the Lord is in the tomb and we wait in hopeful silence.
The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross recount the final steps of Jesus when he his condemned to death by Pilate to his death on the cross and finally his Resurrection. On this day Christians around the world gather to meditate and journey with the Lord to Calvary and the cross.
During the Triduum, we are encouraged to reflect upon the mysteries of our salvation by praying the Rosary. A helpful way is to meditate on the Luminous Mysteries on Holy Thursday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Good Friday, and the Glorious Mysteries on Easter Sunday.
Renewal of Baptismal Promises
During all the Masses of the Resurrection of the Lord, we celebrate the new life we have received through our Baptism and we recommit ourselves to living out our baptismal call to proclaim to the “ends of the earth the Good News.” During the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday, as a Community we renew our baptismal promises and then are sprinkled with the new blessed water. It is customary for Catholics to take with them some of this newly blessed water for use at home throughout the year.
Entering into Easter Joy with Others
On Easter Sunday we gather with our families and friends to celebrate the joy of the Lord’s rising. With Lent over, we stop our fasting and works of penance. During this time of celebration and feasting, we are called to remember and help those who do not have enough to eat, so that all may know and enjoy the joy of Easter.