By Mike Kamenski, Pastoral Associate, Director of Liturgy and Music
The Catholic church celebrates the paschal mystery (Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection) both within the context of an entire liturgical year, from Advent to the feast of Christ the King (think: zoom out), as well as within the context of every single mass (think: zoom in).
At this time of the year, we invite you to participate in the liturgical celebration of one (yes, one!) special liturgy: The Triduum (pronounced TREE-doo-oom), the ultimate liturgical expression of the paschal mystery that comprises three days.
Three Days/One Celebration
The Holy Thursday and Good Friday services do not have any “endings,” and the Good Friday and Holy Saturday liturgies have no “beginnings,” so it is one event. It might be confusing because Triduum has come to be translated as “three holy days.” However, as you know, there are FOUR days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday Vigil and Easter Sunday.
How do we get three out of four? We become like the Jewish people! Jews start counting at sundown (vigils are called “erev”), so Thursday to Friday is one day, Friday to Saturday is the second day, and Saturday to Sunday is the third day – adding up to three holy days. Now you can stump your Catholic friends at parties!
Experiencing the Paschal Mystery
On a serious note, this most sacred time in the liturgical year not only gives us a chance to experience the paschal mystery as Christ did, but also to experience the paschal mystery of our own daily lives. Christ unites all people (past, present and future) – with all their blessings and all their failures – in one ultimate act of obedience to the Father, and one act of love for all of God’s people.
Christ entered our lives (incarnation), bringing the God-self not only to the world but to each and every one of us. We are reciprocally asked to enter Christ’s life, to be made a new creation in Christ, rising out of the sufferings of our lives into the glory of the endless love and mercy of our God.
So the Triduum is a two-way street, first allowing us to enter the mystery of our God through his son’s last supper, passion, death and resurrection. Second, the Triduum is a way for our God to intimately connect with us in our pain and suffering and deaths, carrying us through to our own resurrection in the Light of Christ through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It’s three days you don’t want to miss.
Please consider adding your presence and prayer to the liturgical celebrations at St. Sebastian and St. Catherine churches during Holy Week and the coming Paschal/Easter celebrations. Walk with Jesus… and ask Jesus, to walk with you!