Arc of the Triduum

How to better experience the three Holy Days before Easter.

by Br. Philip Neri Gerlomes, OP

A well-prepared celebration of the Paschal Triduum puts even the finest live theater to shame. Some of the most iconic sights and sounds in any culture’s history come to us through the ancient traditions by which we commemorate Our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Even if we don’t have a liturgical “job” to do or even if we’re not especially confident singers, however, we’re never just “watching” the liturgy happen. Instead, we are really and actively participating in the mystery of our redemption. As you prepare to participate in this year’s Triduum, you might consider paying particular attention to the psalm responses from each of the three days:

Holy Thursday

Our blessing cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ

Each Triduum begins with recalling the Last Supper, during which Jesus gave us the Priesthood and the Eucharist as His timeless means of remaining present to and in His Church. Jesus the Eternal High Priest offers Himself in one sacrifice, a sacrifice sufficient for the forgiveness of all sins. Partaking of His own Body and Blood unites all of us, around the world and through the ages, to that same sacrifice. The source and summit of our identity as the Church is celebrating that mystery literally every day, but it all begins on Holy Thursday.

Good Friday

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Thus united to the Body sacrificed once and for all, we honor the sacrifice itself on Good Friday. These words express Jesus’s perfect obedience to God the Father. In making them our own, we remember how our communion with Jesus invites us into the very life of the Holy Trinity. We die to our own desires so that the Beloved Son of God can live in us, so that we can endure whatever it takes to live as faithful sons and daughters of the same Almighty Father.

Easter Vigil

Let us sing to the Lord! He has covered Himself in glory!

There are many sung responses during the Easter Vigil, but this canticle from the Book of Exodus is probably the most memorable. As People of God, we can rightly claim Moses and the Israelites as ancestors. In joining their song of triumph after God rescued them from the Egyptians through the waters of the Red Sea, we give thanks that God now rescues us from death itself through the waters of Baptism.