Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coming Soon: The Most Important 3 Days of the Church Year

As we move into the final days of Lent, it's not too early to start planning one's activities around the events of Holy Week, particularly Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. These three days, called the Easter Triduum, are simply the most important in the entire Church year, as we follow Christ through his last supper with his disciples, his arrest, condemnation, suffering, death on the cross and resurrection, i.e., the Paschal Mystery.

I always tell people who only show up on Easter Sunday that they actually missed the main event:  Jesus has already risen. Sure, it's great to celebrate that, but if we are present at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, we witness Christ's rising among us as we pass from darkness into light. I have written before about the importance of the Triduum, but I simply cannot say it enough.
Triduum (pronounced TRID-YOO-UM, not TRID-EE-UM, as many people say it) means 3 days. Since Pius XII restored the Easter Vigil in 1955 (based on ancient practice), the Church has celebrated these three days as a time apart - an experience of Paschal Mystery for the entire community. It is meant to be on every Catholic's calendar as a time to set other concerns aside.  Even though it is less common for employers to suspend work during the period between noon and 3 p.m. on Friday, Catholics should still be able to find ways to participate in all three days, as many parishes provide an evening service.

Jesus loved you enough to go through his suffering and death, so the least you can do is acknowledge that with your presence at the important liturgies of the Triduum. Thursday night is beautiful as we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and wash feet as he did.  On Friday, we remember the great the love of a God who gave his only Son to suffering and death for our sake. On Saturday night, we witness the lighting of the fire of renewed life and hear about God's great plan for our salvation as we wait for the proclamation of Christ's Resurrection.

Maybe it's just me, but I have never once missed a day of the Triduum since I became Catholic. I cannot imagine not being there, and I certainly cannot understand why anyone would stay home or carry on with normal life activities while something this important is happening. Humor me, please, if you are one who has not typically attended the celebrations of the Triduum. Mark your calendar now - or as soon as the times for the liturgies of the Three Days are announced at your parish.  I guarantee you will not regret it.

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