The Sacred Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord
Triduum means “three days” beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and continuing through sundown on Easter Sunday. The church considers the celebrations of the Triduum to be one liturgy with several “moments” rather than several separate liturgies. These moments include:
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins with the Presentation of the Holy Oils consecrated by our archbishop, Jose Gomez, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at the Chrism Mass the previous Monday. The Oil of the Sick will be used to anoint those who suffer illness. The Oil of the Catechumens will be used to anoint those preparing for baptism. The Sacred Chrism, oil mixed with sweet perfume, will be used to anoint the baptized who are to be sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
The Scripture readings at this mass take us from the Exodus story of Israel’s preparations for the flight from Egypt to the Last Supper with Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and telling us to do the same. In obedience we wash one another’s feet (the “Mandatum”), we celebrate the Eucharist, and we process with the Body of Christ from the church to the Altar of Repose in the Serra Center where we can spend time in prayerful reflection and in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion
Good Friday is a most solemn day for all Christians. Catholics have a powerful liturgical service that takes us deep into the mystery of the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In silence the clergy process in and lie prostrate around the altar as we begin. A beautiful and moving sung rendition of St. John’s Gospel account of the crucifixion is proclaimed followed by a solemn presentation of a wooden cross “on which hung the Savior of the world.”
The assembly then processes to the cross to kiss or touch it in an act of veneration. The service continues with the distribution of Holy Communion. All depart in silence. The cross is displayed in the church throughout the afternoon for those who wish to visit and pray.
The Great Easter Vigil on Saturday Night
The Easter Vigil is celebrated at the center of the Sacred Triduum and is called the “night of nights.” It is the heart of Christianity and of our Church. It is Easter!
The Vigil begins in the courtyard around a bonfire representing the light of Christ from which the new Paschal Candle is lit. Those assembled light tapers from the candle and process behind it into the darkened church where scripture selections are proclaimed to remind us of God’s great love poured out through the ages for our salvation, culminating in the Gospel account of Jesus’ rising from the dead. New members are initiated through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and first reception of Eucharist (Communion).
All this contributes to a mass you won’t soon forget. A joyful reception is held after the mass to congratulate the newly initiated and to celebrate the great feast of Easter. All are welcome and parking is plentiful!
"What the paschal triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history… The liturgies of these days do not “take us back” to the upper room or the path to Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus’ life – nor to catch sight of him emerging from the tomb at Easter’s dawning. They celebrate not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the Spirit of holiness. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community broken like bread for the world’s life – a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace." Taken from “The Three Days of Pascha,” Nathan Mitchell, in Assembly, Volume 18:1. © Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN