The Sacred Triduum in the Catholic Church takes place over a three day period leading up to Easter. However, liturgically the Triduum is one day that slowly unfolds and culminates in Our Lord’s Resurrection.
Many parishes offer various opportunities for prayer during the Triduum, but perhaps you don’t understand what they are or why they are important. Let this year be different. After a long Lent, prayerfully consider participating in an offering at your parish or one nearby.
As you journey closer to the Sacred Triduum in the Catholic Church, here are five ways to keep it holy:
Attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
The evening Mass on Holy Thursday occurs every year but it is not a “regular” Mass. On this night, at this Mass, we commemorate the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
There is also a ceremony included. The priest washes the feet of parishioners, calling to mind how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. This act reminds us to serve others.
Make a Seven Churches Pilgrimage on Holy Thursday After Mass
Catholics around the world have practiced the tradition of visiting seven churches for generations. Ideally the churches are in close proximity to each other so you can visit before they close for the evening.
Although some of the stops on this journey are similar to the Stations of the Cross, these seven visits represent the seven final stations, or places, that Jesus journeyed.
Upon arriving at each church, pilgrims kneel before a temporary altar of repose, or sometimes an empty tabernacle. Beginning with the sign of the cross, they then meditate on a particular Scripture for that station, then spend a few moments with Jesus.
Passages from the Bible to meditate on at each stop are as follows:
- Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–46)
- Jesus is bound and taken before Annas (John 18:19-22)
- Jesus goes before the High Priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26:63-65)
- Jesus goes before Pilate (John 18:35-37)
- Jesus goes before Herod (Luke 23:8-9;11)
- Jesus is taken to Pilate again (Matthew 27:22-26)
- Jesus’ crucifixion and death (Matthew 27:27-31)
Pray At a Taize Prayer Service on Good Friday
Pronounced “Tay-Zay”, this type of prayer has developed in the last century by French monastics living in an ecumenical community. Taize prayer blends elements of music, Scripture reading, spoken prayer, silence, and ritual actions.
The music consists of a few people singing, with an occasional sololist, a short Scriptural phrase or quote from a saint. It is sung repeatedly to allow for meditation on the words and meaning.
Scripture is proclaimed (without preaching). Intercessory prayer or the Our Father may be prayed along with lighting candles, venerating the cross, or gazing on an icon. Silence is incorporated into these elements, providing a quiet rhythm.
If you lead a particularly busy life, you may enjoy this experience of drawing closer to the Heart of Jesus.
Bless an Easter Basket of Traditional Food on Holy Saturday
Blessing baskets on Holy Saturday originated in Poland but this tradition occurs in many churches today, regardless of ethnic origin.
Although food included varies by region and preference, the main contents are full of symbolic meaning. Here are a few examples:
- Decorated eggs symbolize Christ’s Resurrection, hope, and new life.
- A butter lamb calls to mind Jesus, the Lamb Who was slain for us.
- Cross bread, a round loaf with a cross on top, reminds us Jesus is the Bread of Life.
- Horseradish calls to mind the bitter herbs used at Passover, and the bitterness of Christ’s Passion.
- Salt is a symbol of purification and a reminder that Jesus calls us to be salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)
This food and others, like sausage or wine, can be the Vigil meal or Easter Sunday breakfast.
Attend the Easter Vigil Mass
During Lent sometimes statues of saints are covered, and after the Holy Thursday Mass, the altar is bare and purple remains draped over the cross or in church decorations. At the Vigil, the liturgical color of white is used to represent Christ, the Light of the world and His triumph over death.
The Vigil begins with a church that is dark and progressively filled with light. There is rich symbolism which includes the blessing of the Easter Fire, the Pascal candle, and Holy Water signifying our baptism.
There is celebration as Catechumens receive their sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.
Attending this Mass is an opportunity to reflect on the early Church. The Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the light of the Resurrection, fire of the Paschal candle foreshadowing Pentecost…the Easter Vigil incorporates many elements to awaken our senses to the presence of Jesus.
If you would like to explore these themes more, you might enjoy A Devotional Journey Into the Easter Mystery, available at ewtnreligouscatalogue.com.
We Invite You to Journey With Us This Lent
The Station of the Cross warmly invites you to journey with us this Lent. Tune in to programs like Sermons for Everyday Living to keep you connected to the Mystery unfolding in Lent. You can also download our iCatholicRadio app for Android and Apple or listen online at your convenience.