Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of teh Lord!
We begin the holiest week of the year with a triumphant shout of praise to Jesus, the son of David. But on this day we also recall in the gospel reading Jesus' suffering and death on a cross. Thus, the two names by which this first day of holy week is known are Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.
The Triduum is the Church's three-day celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ that encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Triduum means "three days." The Triduum commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was willing to die for our sins and was resurrected, death is no longer the end of life for us. It is the beginning of new life.
Do this in remembrance of me
. 1 Corinthians 11:24
The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper. It commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, as well as Jesus' command of love and service. The Sacred Scripture we hear this night retells the story of the first Passover meal as the Israelites prepared for their journey out of slavery in Egypt. So, too, Jesus prepared us for our journey out of the slavery of sin as he ate his final meal with His disciples.
This night we also recall in the Gospel that Jesus, although Master and Lord, came to
and not to
served. This commandment to love and service He expressed through the washing of the apostles' feet. This is recalled during the Mass in a rite called Mandatum (command).
In a special way, this night celebrates the institution of the priesthood. Jesus gave the gift of the Priesthood to his Church on the night before he died, when He commanded the apostles, "Do this in remembrance of me." We end this night by keeping watch with Jesus, still present with us in the gift of the Blessed Sacrament. Night prayer will conclude this period of adoration at 10:45 PM.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
Good Friday is a celebration of the passion, the suffering, and death of Jesus. Because this event won salvation for sinners, the day is called "Good," and the liturgy reflects on love as much as on loss. We are reminded of the full weight of our sin, even as we are lifted up by the incomparable measure of God's love. Mass is not celebrated on this day, but the Church's liturgy consists in a celebration of the Word, veneration of the cross, and the reception of communion.
The Triduum reaches its climax at the Easter Vigil. If there is one Mass in which Catholics should make every effort to participate every year, it is the Easter Vigil. It is the most important celebration of the year. The Easter Vigil has four parts.
It begins with a service of light. The community gathers in darkness to hear that Christ is our light, shattering the darkness of sin. The Paschal Candle is lit from the blessed fire and carried into the darkened church, as the Deacon proclaims, "Christ, our light." We respond, "Thanks be to God."
The second part of the Vigil is the Liturgy of the Word, which provides an overview of salvation history.
The liturgy of baptism follows. This year, seven catechumens will be baptized, three candidates will come into full communion in the Church, and five, one of whom will receive first communion as well, will be confirmed. The entire assembly renews its baptismal promises. Together we will pledge our faith in the resurrection, and promise to follow Christ more closely.
The Vigil's final part is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, during which the new Catholics will join us in the Eucharist for the very first time.
Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Mark 16:6