Monday, April 18, 2011


Now that’s a word for you, isn’t it? There are three syllables: trid –u-um. It is pronounced, trid'-yOO-um. So what is it all about? It’s the Latin word for “three days” and represents the three holiest days of the church year. It begins with the evening of Maundy Thursday (this year it is April 1), is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of the Lord on Holy Saturday, reaches its high point in the Easter vigil, and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. On Holy Thursday we remember the Last Supper and that Jesus gave himself in the Eucharist. We recall that Jesus chose his apostles to serve and lead the Church. Remembering that Jesus washed their feet at the Last Supper, the presiding minister sometimes washes the feet of members of the congregation. The word “Maundy” means commandment or mandate. On this day, Jesus gave us a new commandment, “love one another as I have loved you.” The evening worship service of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday is a beautiful and joyful celebration. We recall Jesus call to servant hood and the love he had for us as he gives his body and blood to us in The Lord’s Supper. At the end of the service, the main altar is stripped bare. On Good Friday we remember the death of Jesus. According to an ancient custom, communion is not provided on this day or before the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The commemoration of the Lord's passion and death may take place in the afternoon or in the darkness of night. There are three parts to the liturgy of the day: the Liturgy of the Word; the Bidding Prayer, and the Veneration of the Cross. On Holy Saturday we meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus. Then the people celebrate the Easter Vigil. The celebration of the Easter Vigil should take place at night, beginning after nightfall and ending before the dawn of Sunday. The Easter Vigil has four parts: The Service of Light; the Liturgy of the Word; the Liturgy of Baptism; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. During the Service of Light, all the lights in the church are turned off and a fire is prepared outside the church. Then the fire is blessed and the Paschal Candle is lighted from the new fire. The candle is carried into the dark church. It is a sign of Christ, the Light of the World, who has overcome the darkness of sin and death. The lighted Paschal Candle provides the only illumination. Then, from the flame of the Paschal Candle, members of the congregation light the small candles that they are holding. The flame is passed from person to person until everyone is holding a lighted candle. The light from the Paschal Candle and all the small candles provides the only illumination in the church during this portion of the liturgy. This section concludes with the singing of the Easter Proclamation. During the Liturgy of the Word, the story of God's great love for us is proclaimed in readings from the Old and New Testaments. There are seven Old Testament texts. Although it would be preferable that all seven Old Testament readings be proclaimed, the number of readings may be reduced if the circumstances necessitate. Minimally, two Old Testament readings are proclaimed. The readings recall the great events of salvation, beginning with creation itself and were selected to dispose people to celebrate the sacraments of Christian initiation with great faith. During the Liturgy of Baptism, those who have been preparing for Baptism and their godparents are called forward. The presiding ministers then go to the baptismal font, if this can be seen by the congregation. After the candidates are baptized, all present stand with lighted candles and renew their baptismal promises as a sign that they share the new life of Jesus through his resurrection. The newly baptized and confirmed await their first sharing in the Eucharist. The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist. This is a joyous sharing in the sacrificial meal of Jesus Christ, Lord and Risen Savior. While most congregations observe Holy Week in three separate services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Day, there are those communities of faith who are returning to the Triduum to fully embrace the three holiest days of the church year as the liturgy flows from one service to another. However we observe this holy time, we need to remember that there is no Easter without Good Friday, there is no empty tomb without a cross, and there is no resurrection without the crucifixion.

No comments:

Post a Comment