Tag Archives: Triduum

The meaning of the season of Lent

March 10, 2017

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GoodFriday

There are four general Prefaces in the Roman Missal for the Season of Lent, and these texts are not only spoken liturgical prayers, they also serve as texts for personal prayer and meditation, and they express the spiritual purpose and importance of the season.

Preface I of Lent explains the meaning of the season.  It begins by noting that Lent is God’s gracious gift to us each year.  Lent is not monthly, quarterly, biannually, or every five years, but once a year.  God gives us the season of Lent for our own spiritual good.  Sin is insidious.  New sins pop up.  We fall deeper into the rut of old habitual sins.  Laxity creeps in.  God knows that we need to set aside time each year to reexamine our lives, face our shortcomings, renounce our evildoing, admit instances when we should have done good and failed to do so, repent, be cleansed, and start anew.

Lent is the time that God’s faithful await the sacred paschal feasts.  It is a forty day journey of preparation for the three holiest days of the Church year, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, all three woven together into the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

The goal is for each believer to be able to celebrate the Triduum with joy, a genuine sense of inner peace and contentment that comes from being in right relationship with God and neighbor, loving others, speaking the truth, performing good deeds, and observing the commandments.  Joy is the result of minds made pure.  Our minds are impure when we think about bad things like how to get back at someone, how to get away with something without being caught, or how to treat ourselves to something that is harmful, and then to desire the bad thing for ourselves and devise a plan for how to get it.  Lent is a time to cleanse our minds of all mental impurities and to desire what is good and wholesome, and for our desires to conform with the gospel and God’s will.  A pure mind is the path to true joy, and a joyful heart is the ideal spiritual disposition for the celebration of the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

Lent is a season to be more eagerly intent on prayer and works of charity.  To be eagerly intent is to strongly want something, to recognize it as worthwhile, and to pursue it with excitement and energy.  It is a time of intensification.  Presumably prayer is already a part of our spiritual lives.  Lent is a time to improve the quality or the quantity of our prayer.  Presumably we already perform good deeds.  Lent is a time for additional or new acts of kindness.

During Lent we participate in the mysteries by which we are reborn.  Each Christian is born of flesh, and reborn of water and spirit (see Jn 3:5,6).  Lent features conversion, a stronger belief in Jesus as Messiah and Lord, he who is the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25); the mystery of the Cross, how Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer washes away our sins with the blood that he shed and gives us new life in his grace; and forgiveness, how Jesus is compassionate and merciful and grants pardon and peace to the sinner.  Lent looks ahead to Holy Thursday, the Eucharist and how Jesus lives within those who receive his Body and Blood (Jn 6:53-58); Good Friday, and how Jesus’s death on the Cross leads to salvation and eternal life; and Easter, how in the waters of Baptism each believer dies to sin and is reborn in the fullness of God’s grace.  It is through Baptism, the featured sacrament of Easter, that we become members of the Body of Christ, and God claims us as his sons and daughters.

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What is the Sacred Paschal Triduum?

March 29, 2012

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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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