How About that Triduum?

By December 10, 2018 May 15th, 2019 No Comments


We’re past it for this year (past it but not done with it), but it’s worth noting that the Holy Triduum (Or more properly the Sacred Paschal Triduum, consisting of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, & the Easter Vigil) is essentially a single service. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (during which we wash one another’s feet) begins as does every Mass – with the Sign of the Cross, the usual greeting (“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”) and the collect (pronounced “llect” and usually called the “opening prayer”) – but after the prayer after communion (usually called the “closing prayer”) there is no final blessing. Instead, after communion the Body of Christ (the consecrated hosts) is transferred from the Sanctuary to the place of repose (in our case, a stage-setting Garden of Gethsemane) in Brady Hall. There is no Mass on Good Friday. The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord – a communion service using the hosts that were consecrated on Holy Thursday – begins neither with the Sign of the Cross nor with a greeting but rather with an unadorned prayer. Once again there is no final blessing (Why For what reason is Sign of the Cross capitalized but not final blessing? Who decides these things?) but an unadorned Prayer over the People. There is neither a Mass nor a communion service (Either or, neither nor: Thank you S’ter. BTW, could you tell that the comma between Either or and neither nor was not italicized?) on Holy Saturday. The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night (which the Church understands to be the “greatest and most noble of all solemnities,” and which must begin after nightfall Saturday and end before daybreak on Sunday, which boundaries if strictly and literally observed would make for a very long service) begins not with the usual greeting (OK, there is a Sign of the Cross just before the blessing of the Easter fire. So sue me.) but with the Blessing of the Easter Fire and Preparation of the Candle. The Easter fire Fire, BTW, is supposed to be “blazing.” Which ours was, and how. Here at Loyola we go for Big Symbols. And, from now on, asbestos suits.

Why does this matter? (Oops. Forgot the quiz: Are there any days of the year when the Mass is not celebrated? 1. No. 2. Yes. 3. Yes, dear Sister, there are two. 4. All of the above. Correct and most complete answer: 3.)(You may be seated.) It matters because the three services that make up the Holy Triduum are a single movement and – in a way – a single service. The entire history of salvation – your history – is laid out in a three-part service, as if to remind us that you can’t separate Good Friday from Easter Sunday. But wait! Neither can you separate the Passion and Resurrection from the washing of the feet (the Washing of the Feet) on Holy Thursday: The essential serving of others, connected to self-emptying Love, connected to victory over death itself. In this is the salvation of the world. In this are you beloved.