The Easter Triduum
The Triduum contains three liturgies: Maundy Thursday, Good and the Easter Vigil. I like to think of the Triduum as a three-act play over three days.
Act 1 – Maundy Thursday: agape supper, foot washing, procession of the Eucharist, and the stripping of the altar.
Act 2 – Good Friday: we will be having the Stations of the Cross at noon in the Church.
Act 3 – Easter Vigil: begins with the Service of Light, the chanting of the Exultet, the Hebrew stories of redemption, the First Alleluias of Easter and Holy Eucharist.
I will do more in depth on each of these ‘Acts’ next week.
To give some overview to the Paschal Triduum, it is important to think about the Church as a living entity. To that end, the Church adapts as humanity adapts to its place in our culture.
I have said for many years that the Second Vatican Council that was convened by Pope John XXIII from the fall of 1962 to winter of 1965 changed almost all of the liturgical churches. It was a trickle down of liturgy that spread across Christianity.
Altars were moved forward so the priests would face the congregation, liturgies were made more user-friendly, and the laity were given more ownership of the Church.
All of that being said, the Triduum in its present look is relatively new. The present form goes back to the 1930’s. However, at the end of the fourth century, Saint Ambrose already spoke of a Triduum Sacrum referring to the different elements of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. By this time, the Church began to celebrate more systematically the Paschal Triduum when it formally started to relive the historical mysteries of Christ’s life, starting in Jerusalem, where the Passion and Resurrection of Christ actually took place.
Each celebration of the Paschal Triduum contains a particular look: the afternoon of Maundy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Eucharist; Good Friday is dedicated especially to the Passion and Death of Jesus on the Cross; finally, in the Paschal Vigil, the faithful relive the glory of the Resurrection.
Tune in next week for a breakdown of each of these liturgies.