Sacred Triduum

The conclusion of Holy Week ends with the “Liturgy of all Liturgies,” commonly known as the “Sacred Triduum.” This liturgical event is so important, it spans three days!

It is a beautiful liturgy that is meant to draw us even closer to the great Paschal mystery of Christ’s Passion, death and resurrection.

Below is Benedict XVI’s helpful summary of each day, which he presented in a Wednesday audience in 2007.

Holy Thursday

In the evening, entering the Easter Triduum, the Christian community relives what happened at the Last Supper in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. In the Upper Room, the Redeemer wanted to anticipate the sacrifice of his life in the Sacrament of the bread and wine changed into his Body and Blood: he anticipated his death, he freely gave his life, he offered the definitive gift of himself to humanity.

With the washing of the feet, the gesture with which, having loved his own, he loved them to the end is repeated (cf. Jn 13:1), and he bequeathed this act of humility to his disciples as their “badge”: love unto death.

After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the liturgy invites the faithful to pause in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, reliving Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. And we see that the disciples fell asleep, leaving their Lord on his own.

Good Friday

Good Friday, which commemorates the events between Christ’s condemnation to death and his Crucifixion, is a day of penance, fasting and prayer, of participation in the Lord’s Passion. At the prescribed hour, the Christian Assembly, with the help of the Word of God and liturgical actions, renews the history of human infidelity to the divine plan, which was nonetheless brought about exactly in this way; and it listens once again to the moving narrative of the Lord’s sorrowful Passion.

The Assembly then addresses to the Heavenly Father a long “prayer of the faithful” which embraces all the needs of the Church and of the world.

Subsequently, the community adores the Cross and receives the Eucharist, consuming the sacred species reserved from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the previous day. In commenting on Good Friday, St. John Chrysostom observes: “First, the Cross stood for contempt, but today it is something venerable; before it was the symbol of condemnation, today it is the hope of salvation. It has truly become a source of infinite good; it has freed us from error, it has dispelled our shadows, it has reconciled us with God, it has transformed us from being enemies of God to being members of his family, from being strangers to being his neighbours: this Cross is the destruction of enmity, the source of peace, the casket of our treasure” (cf. De Cruce et Latrone I, 1, 4).

Easter Vigil

Holy Saturday is the day when the liturgy is hushed, the day of great silence, and Christians are invited to preserve interior recollection, often difficult to encourage in our day, in order to be better prepared for the Easter Vigil.

Finally, during the Easter Vigil the veil of sorrow which shrouds the Church because of the death of the Lord will be torn by the victorious cry: Christ is risen and has defeated death for ever! We will then truly be able to understand the mystery of the Cross, “since God also creates wonders even in the impossible,” an ancient writer says, “so that we may know that he alone can do what he wills. From his death comes our life, from his wounds our healing, from his fall our resurrection, from his descent our uplifting” (Anonymous, Quartodecimano).

Reclame

H. Nouwen’s Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

From John 3

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

OVERCOME FEAR
 
Nicodemus admired Jesus but was afraid to lose the respect of his own colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these fearful sympathizers because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward.
I love Jesus but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus but I want to hold on to my own independence even when that independence brings me no real freedom… I love Jesus but do not want to give up my writing plans, travel plans, and speaking plans, even when those plans are often more to my glory than to the glory of God.
So I am like Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes (John 19:39) than needed or desired.

 

PRAYER FOR TODAY
 
Dearest God, help me to evaluate my motivations and actions in the light of your purposes and not be held sway by the advice of friends and opinion makers. Let me look to you rather than to others for guidance, for in setting that priority I learn to renounce my own will and keep peace with you.
Amen
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