The Triduum

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The (western) church is observing the Paschal Triduum, that is, the three days from the evening of Maundy Thursday, to sunset on Easter Day, which I’ve heard recently referred to, helpfully I think, as Resurrection Sunday.

Maundy Thursday is the day when we begin the preparations for Good Friday. We also remember, especially, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, and Jesus’ example of service to his disciples, modelled through washing their feet. The Maundy Thursday eucharist is a solemn and reflective one, which ends with the stripping of the sanctuary of the church, leaving just a single candle to symbolise Jesus’ vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. (The ESV Bible Blog has posted a link to an audio reading from John’s Gospel of the events leading up to, and including Jesus’ crucifixion – John 13-19.)

On Good Friday we remember Jesus’ crucifixion, and particularly what it means. Through his death on the cross, Jesus reconciles humanity with God – once for all, and for everyone. A free gift for the taking, and importantly, living.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting – after sunset, however, Easter, the Sunday of the Resurrection may be celebrated, usually with the Easter Vigil at some time in the late evening (because in Christian liturgical time, a day begins at sunset on the evening prior to the calendar day, and ends at sunset on the calendar day – confusing… yes!). On this day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter is a reflective and joyful time for Christians. I, like others, am challenged in my observance by the ‘intrusion’ of the world. However – this is the point. Christians are called to live ‘in two worlds’ – the world here and now, and the world to come. Our most powerful witness comes when we seek faithfully to live the Way of Jesus – not to retreat from the world, but to engage with it, and to bring the love of God into the broken and hurting world – which is the point of Eastertide, after all.

An Easter Message from Bishop Mouneer Anis
Good Friday Message from Archbishop Phillip Freier
Reflections on the Easter Triduum from Dom Laurence Freeman, Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation (whilst you’re clicking, consider visiting The Spiritual Solution)

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