It is only one week until Holy Week and two weeks until Easter, so I thought I would do a little explanation and promotion of the Triduum services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. These are not obligations but opportunities to more fully celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection, bringing us into the Easter Season.
Holy Thursday – 7pm – The Mass of the Lord’s Supper – This Mass commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The First Reading from Exodus describes to us the initial celebration of Passover as God instructed Moses in Egypt. The Gospel from John tells us of Jesus celebrating Passover with his Apostles, and washing their feet as a model of how they are to lead once he is gone. After the readings from Scripture we also celebrate a washing of feet, having some parishioners come into the sanctuary and taking off a shoe to allow me to wash their foot. I have asked for volunteers to have their feet washed. I know sometimes it can feel awkward, ( I had the archbishop wash mine once at the Cathedral), but Peter felt the same way until Jesus told him a little more sternly to sit down and let him do it. It is a reminder of what Jesus did for us, but even more what He is asking us to do after this for others. When we pray the Eucharistic Prayer we will be consecrating all of the hosts that will be consumed at this Mass as well as at our Good Friday service as Mass will not be celebrated again until the Easter Vigil. After Communion the remaining consecrated hosts will be placed in a ciborium on the altar, and after the Prayer after Communion will be brought in procession to a tabernacle we will have set up where the baptismal font is located. After a period of silent prayer in front of the tabernacle the ministers will exit and the service concludes in silence. The church will remain open until 11pm for people to come for adoration. The holy water fonts will have been emptied before Mass and the altar will also be stripped bare after Mass, preparing us for the Passion and ultimately Easter.
Good Friday – noon and 7pm – The Passion of the Lord – No Masses are celebrated on Good Friday, rather there is a liturgy of the Word where we remember the Lord’s Passion, followed by Adoration of the Cross, and then the distribution and reception of Communion. This is a much more somber service than a Mass, both beginning and ending in silence. At the beginning the ministers will come in and lay prostrate in front of the altar as the congregation kneels in prayer. During Adoration of the Cross, after the Cross has been brought into the Sanctuary of the church (or is already there and is uncovered) all are encouraged to come forward to show a sign of reverence for the Cross (such as genuflecting or kissing the Cross). After adoration has ended, Communion is distributed and the service is concluded with a prayer and all depart in silence.
Holy Saturday – 8 pm – The Easter Vigil – details in next week’s article.