The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Easter Triduum

The highlight of the Church's year is the Easter Triduum which comprises the ceremonies of the Mass of the Lord's Supper (Holy Thursday), the Veneration of the Cross (Good Friday) and the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday Night).  Many places will also have ancillary services such as the Stations of the Cross, Penetential Services and other moments which are designed to help us to reflect.  Nonetheless, the triduum, per se, is made up of three ceremonies.  In many ways these three ceremonies offer a summary, in a ritualised way, of the mysteries of Christ and of the Church.  This is not surprising when we bear in mind that, since the the first days of the Church, Easter has been the priviliged time for Baptism.  Those who had been preparing for an extended period would, normally, have been baptised during the Easter Vigil which St. Augustine called the "Mother of all Vigils".  Just as the new initiates were immersed in the waters of baptism and through them, immersed in the mysteries of Christ, so they would be immersed in the mysteries of Christ through the whole liturgy of these days.

There are many things that could be said about this triduum and yet, in many ways, a lot of them are unnecessary since the liturgy of these days is highly symbolic and really speaks for itself.  The Easter Vigil, in particular, traces the entire history of the relationship between God and the chosen people; the incarnation of Jesus and our being called to eternal life.  This relationship is mapped out through symbol, ritual, reflection and prayer.  Each of these is firmly rooted in listening to the Word of God - the same Word of God who took on flesh, lived among us and was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead.

It may be helpful to try to put words on what we are doing during these days.  In many ways we are remembering.  I do not mean that we are recalling something that has been forgotten.  The Church's year keeps the mysteries of Christ constantly before us and so we cannot be said to have forgotten them.  In the Easter Triduum we are engaged in a very particular type of remembering.  It is quite like the type of remembering that happens when we are brought back to a significant time in our lives when we come across a photo that hasn't been seen in a while.  Perhaps we have had the experience of tasting something which we haven't tasted since childhood.  This sort of remembering makes us part of an experience that, while distant in time, becomes present in a vivid and meaningful way.

This is the type of remembering that envelops us as we participate in the Easter Triduum.  It is the remembering that touches us at a very fundamental level and carries us right to the heart of what is being recalled before our eyes.

As we participate in these days, then, let us allow ourselves to be carried by the symbols and rituals in which we are invited to participate.  These are the pathways that will lead us beyond the details to the meaning of what is being relived in our believing communities all over the world.

Article posted on 29th of March 2010

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