Lent ends with start of the Sacred Triduum. Each is a separate liturgical time. The Triduum or Three Days begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and celebrates the greatest mystery of our redemption, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. The Three Days of the Triduum are celebrated as a single event.
In the words of St. Ambrose, “We must observe no only the day of the Passion but the day of the Resurrection as well. Thus we will have a day of bitterness and a day of joy; on the one let us fast, on the other let us seek refreshment….During this Sacred Triduum….[Christ] suffered, rested and rose from the dead.” (Epis. 23, 12-13)
At the Last Supper, Jesus extended the Paschal Mystery, his unique sacrifice for our salvation, to each of us through the Eucharist. The Eucharist recalls the Paschal Mystery not simply as a reminder of things past but makes it truly present. Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist is his greatest gift to the Church. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; … He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and … abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:51, 54, 56)
On Holy Thursday, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate and commemorate that wonderful gift and the priesthood through which it is perpetuated. The antiphon for the Holy Thursday liturgy reminds us: “Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.”
Friday confronts us with the mystery of the Cross which is more than a memorial of Christ’s death but involves each of us directly in His sacrifice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that, “The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men.” But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the Paschal Mystery” is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”, for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.” (618)
Saturday Jesus rested in the tomb awaiting the moment of his victory over death.
Image: “The Last Supper” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish