Our Lenten Journey comes to an end on Thursday evening when the Sacred Triduum (Three Days) begins. The Triduum is the summit of the liturgical year. It begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter. It commemorates the heart of the Gospel, Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Christians as early as the Second Century marked the Lord’s Passion and death with an all-night Easter Vigil, culminating with the celebration of His resurrection at dawn. Over the years, the observance was spread over three days. When persecutions by the Roman Empire ended and the Christians could worship openly, more feast days were added to the calendar and the important night of the Easter Vigil faded and for some Christians was overshadowed by the celebration of the Nativity. The liturgical celebrations of Holy Week virtually became private affairs for the priests, ministers and a handful of parishioners, with the Triduum eclipsed by Lent and Easter.
Restoration of the Triduum began with Pope Pius XII in 1955 and was completed by the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The liturgies of the Lord’s Supper and Easter Vigil were to be celebrated in the evening when more people could participate. The center of the Good Friday became the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, de-emphasizing private devotions and emphasizing the Crucifixion.
Because of the council’s reforms, there is more active and fruitful participation on the part of parishioners and the Triduum has been restored to its rightful place as the high point of the Church’s liturgical year.
It is my hope that you will enrich your Lenten journey by participating in the Triduum at your parish and taking advantage of the extra times being made available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
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