What is the Sacred Paschal Triduum?

March 29, 2012

The Pastor's Page

The Sacred Paschal Triduum is the three most solemn days of the liturgical year; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.  These most holy days celebrate the Paschal Mystery, first, the passion, suffering, and death of the Lord Jesus, followed by his resurrection, the triumph of the holy cross, and Christ’s decisive victory over sin and death.

The Triduum is a single feast, the Paschal Mystery, celebrated over three days, and they are the three holiest days of the entire liturgical year.  It is ironic, however, that feasts like the Assumption on August 15, All Saints Day on November 1, and the Immaculate Conception on December 8, are holy days of obligation while the three days of the Triduum are not.  There is no Church law that requires attendance for the Triduum, but good laws only make compulsory what should be done anyway.

For example, God gave the Third Commandment, “Keep holy the Sabbath day” (Ex 20:8), which serves as the basis for the Sunday Mass obligation.  We should want to go to Mass every Sunday.  It is only right to give thanks for the many blessings that we receive over the course of the week, and if we do not nourish our faith regularly, minimally at least once a week, with God’s holy Word and Holy Communion, it is likely that we will become spiritually malnourished and weaker in our faith.  If there was no law, a devout disciple of Jesus would want to go to Mass every Sunday anyway because it is the right thing to do, but because so many are lax with their faith and fail to do what should be presumed, a law was established to make mandatory what Christians should eagerly and gladly do on their own.

If there were ever three days that Christians should want to go to church to pray, it would be the Triduum.  These days rank at the head of the liturgical calendar.  They celebrate the most sacred mysteries of our faith, and they ought to be celebrated with the community at liturgy.  The Jews have three high holy days, three pilgrimage feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Booths, and those who lived outside of Jerusalem made pilgrimage to the Temple to celebrate these solemn occasions.  The three days of the Triduum are our “high holy days,” our “pilgrimage feast,” and we ought to make pilgrimage from our homes to church to commemorate and honor how the Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends, for our salvation.

Please make it a top priority to go to church to celebrate the Triduum this year.  Reserve the time.  Rearrange your schedule if necessary.  Take some personal time off from work.  Suspend errands or jobs around the house.  Drop everything.  Plan to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.  These days may be optional, but none are more important.  Enter into the mystery.

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

View all posts by Father Michael Van Sloun
  • Devon

    Im just curious as to when the Catholic Church decided that commands from God to continue keeping the Passover and other Jewish holidays forever, was no longer necessary. The early church fathers, disciples of the apostles, were killed and threatened with excommunication initially by the early Catholic Church when it was in its genesis, for continuing the feasts of Jewish tradition. Why were these feasts done away with and replaced with the “christianized” pagan tradition of Easter, which is just a renamed celebration to fertility gods of Babylon? The egg and rabbit are pagan signs of fertility, nothing remotely related to Christ. Deuteronomy 12:28-32 (NKJ): “Observe and obey all these words which I command you…When…you…dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them…and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods…Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it”… These holidays were superimposed over pagan holidays to make the coming to the Catholic Church more palatable to pagans.