One Mass, Three DaysApril 5th, 2012
Time is a funny thing. We say that time flies. We also say that time crawls. Sometimes, it seems that the days go by so quickly it’s difficult to really appreciate the gift that it is. From my vantage point, it seems that Lent just started and we’re already at the Triduum!
The Triduum is both the shortest Liturgical Season and the longest continuous liturgical celebration – three days of prayer, reflection, and celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps it is the Church’s way to slow us down enough to recognize and truly appreciate the meaning of these days.
The liturgical celebration begins on Holy Thursday with the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper. It is here that we meditate on what happened that night – the first Eucharist, the betrayal of Judas, the washing of the apostles’ feet, Jesus’ agony in the garden and arrest. It is this night that we hear Jesus say, “Do this in memory of me,” and “Go and do likewise.” We have here the example we are to follow. Jesus willingly offering himself for those he loves and leading by serving.
You may notice that on Holy Thursday there is no dismissal from the Mass. The Mass isn’t over yet. All are invited to remain in prayer with Jesus on this night just as Peter, James and John were invited to pray with Jesus in the garden. There’s a beautiful song from the Taize community that states, “Stay here with me. Remain here with me. Watch and pray. Watch and pray.” We are invited to watch and to pray with the one who emptied himself completely for our sake.
The liturgical celebration continues with the commemoration of the crucifixion on Good Friday. There are no Masses celebrated on Good Friday. We gather to continue the prayers of the previous night. We gather to remember together the events that save us. The services on Good Friday have always been especially moving for me. I have been moved to tears as I prayed with the words of the songs or watched others venerate the cross.
Since moving to Dayton I have participated each year in the Lenten Walk for Justice on Good Friday. It is a meditation on the Stations of the Cross through which we consider the many ways Jesus is still persecuted in our poor, marginalized, ill-treated sisters and brothers today. It is a powerful reminder to me of Jesus’ words, “whatsoever you do to these least ones of mine, you do to me.” (Matthew 25: 45)
The Triduum reaches its climax in the celebration of the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. Once again the Church will sing “Alleluia!” The tomb is empty… he has risen! It is in this celebration that we move from the darkness of death to the light of new life; we hear the story of God’s faithful love throughout all of history; we welcome new members to our family and rejoice that life always triumphs over death. With the dismissal from this celebration the Mass that began on Thursday comes to an end.
My prayer as we enter the Triduum is that each of us may recognize the grace of these days. That we might drink deeply from the well of meaning the Liturgical season holds and that we might rise to life anew.
Grace and peace to you, Sr. N