The Paschal Triduum (“three days”) commemorates Jesus’ passage through death to life. Unique in the public worship of the Church, these solemn days bridge Lent and the Easter season. Following the understanding of the ancient world, each “day” begins at sundown and ends at sundown on the following day.
Day One: Jesus Handed Over and Crucified
Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
After washing the feet of the disciples, Jesus asks them if they understand. They are to wash one another’s feet– to serve rather than to be served. Each year in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the Church remembers this mandate: “As I have done, so must you also do.” Then Jesus continues on to Calvary, straining our understanding further.
Response: Veneration of the Cross.
Day Two: Jesus Buried in the Tomb
Shall I Not Drink the Cup that the Father Gave Me? (John 18:11)
The “cup” the Father gave Jesus was the full measure of humanity, including its sinfullness and the consequences of sin. The One who could have walked away did not, but emptied himself on the cross for us. The cup was death, the death of God-with-us.
Day Three: Jesus Raised from the Dead
Why Do You Seek the Living One among the Dead? (Luke 24:5)
The question is asked of us: why do we seek life where there is no life, happiness in what can only make us miserable, fulfillment in what is empty? Risen from the dead, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life!
Q: Why is it called the Paschal Triduum?
A: Paschal is a word from the Hebrew meaning passing. From that word we get the Jewish feast of Passover, commemorating not only the angel of the Lord’s “passing over” the Hebrew households on the night the firstborn Egyptians were slain, but also the passing of Israel through the Red Sea to freedom. Christians use the term Paschal Mystery to describe Jesus’ own passing through his passion, death and burial to the resurrection.
Q: Why is it called the Paschal Mystery? Is there some solution or answer we are looking for?
A: The Paschal Mystery is a mystery in the sense that the depth of its meaning can never be fully understood. For example, what does it mean for the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, to suffer death? Or how does the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus redeem humankind? There are theological responses for such questions, of course, but the depth of meaning in these events will never be fully understood. we can, however, appreciate more and more of the significance of the Paschal Mystery in Jesus’ life and in our own lives as we celebrate these days together.
Q: Why are there three days of liturgical celebration? Isn’t Easter Sunday the most important day of all?
A: The Easter liturgy is the highpoint of the entire liturgical year and the reason for our joy as Christians. The Sacred Triduum reflects the fact that the joy of Easter came about through Jesus’s suffering and death, not in spite of it. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday sets the context for the Triduum. Jesus’ Passover begins in love: the love he has for his disciples as well as the love he has for the Father. By celebrating these three days, the Church offers us the big picture in which the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ are not isolated from one another, but from one continuous act of love for us.
Holy Thursday (March 24, 2005)
A Sign of Love
The apostles enjoyed a kind of baptism when Jesus took water and washed their feet. In this powerful symbol of genuine service, we see most clearly what it means to love one another as Jesus has loved us. (John 13:1-15)
Good Friday (March 25, 2005)
Jesus Knows Our Need
Jesus held nothing back from those who beat him. To the last, he was obedient to the Father. And he knows what sin is. Let us never fear to go to him in temptation, confusion or fear. He will grant us mercy. (Heb. 4:14-16; 5:7-9)
Holy Saturday (March 26, 2005)
Death Is Not The End
What seems to us final and absolute is no barrier to God. As we celebrate these mysteries of our faith, may we remember that the Creator brought life where there was none. Rejoice in what has been and hope for what will be! (Romans 6:3-11)
Mass Readings during the Holy Week
- Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Exodus 12:1-8,11-14; Psalm 116; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; John 13:1-15.
- Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31:2-25; Hebrews 4:14-16 and 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42.
- Easter Vigil: Genesis 1:1-2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15,3:32-4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Romans 6:3-11; Luke 24:1-12.
- Easter Morning: Acts 10:34,37-43; Psalm 118; 1 Cor. 5:6-8; John 20:1-9.
- Easter Evening Prayer: Psalm 110:1-5,7; Psalm 114; Revelation 19:1-7; Hebrews 10:12-14; Luke 1:46-55.
Lent is the time for reflection and thanksgiving. Each of us needs to reflect on all that God has given us; from His presence in our daily lives, to what we can do for those who are less fortunate than we are.
Take the time now to pause and give thanks for all that you have received or are about to receive and reflect during this Holy Week on what you can give back to those less fortunate.
As a disciple today… we are called to share our time, talent, and treasure!
I’ve found the following ‘company’ very touching. It’s very comforting too… and I would like to share it with you.
Source: 2004 & 2005 Catholic Lenten Calendar by Mark Nielsen (Creative Communications for the Parish) and ShareLife.