I am Catholic. It’s no secret here or to anyone that knows me. I am proud of my faith and of all the Catholic Church does for people daily in the world (feeding, housing, healing, educating, etc.). This time of year is the most anticipated “season” in the Church.
Beginning Thursday, Catholics around the world will celebrate the Easter Triduum, the three day period when Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and then was resurrected. Thursday is Holy Thursday and commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus was betrayed by Judas. We will receive the Holy Eucharist and then the Body of Christ will be removed from the tabernacle in the front of the church and solemnly walked to the sacristy to await the resurrection. This Mass doesn’t actually have an “ending”. The tabernacle light is extinguished and everyone will proceed out of the church in silence and reverence. Christ has died. We are mourning. The altar and church is cleared of any decoration or color.
Good Friday is a continuation of the Holy Thursday Mass. The Body of Christ (they were consecrated on Holy Thursday Mass) is brought in from the sacristy, we commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. This is a solemn event but it is not, in itself, a Mass. Since no consecration occurs, there is no actual Mass. And actually Mass is forbidden on this day. During this gathering the cross will be adored. This is the most solemn day in all of the church calendar and is a day of fasting and abstinence in penance. This gathering begins with no processional and there is no send-off at the end.
My husband and I attend the Easter Vigil Mass and this Mass, if you are Catholic, is a must attend! This is the Mass where we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and also wherein we welcome new members into the church by way of being present for their Sacraments (Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation). This is when those adults coming into the Church have completed their studies and contemplation and are ready to be fully received in to the faith and Catholic Church community. This Mass is full of light, love, history and joy! Joy that is palpable by all in attendance. In my Parish we begin service outside, in front of the church. The Easter candle is lit and then all of our candles (we were handed one as we gathered) are lit from that one candle. We re-enter the church to candlelight and begin the liturgy this way. It’s very cool.
This Easter Triduum in my household will be as it always is. A time of penance, reflection, lots of church and a lot of joy come Sunday.