Easter Triduum Explained
April 7, 2017
Holy Week is the Mother of all weeks of the church year, and Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the three holiest days of the Church year. Participating in them is an experience of the sacred that is the spiritual highlight of the year. We strongly encourage each of you to join us in these truly marvelous celebrations.
This solemnity of three days is collectively known as the Easter Triduum. Actually, the Triduum is ONE continuous celebration that takes place over three days. It is the climax of our Lenten efforts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Triduum is to the Church year what Sunday is to the week.
The Triduum liturgies are the most beautiful, moving, and symbolically rich celebrations of the year. In them, the foundations of our Christian and Catholic faith are recounted through a richness of liturgical prayer and symbols, and in such a way as to bind the human spirit to the Spirit of God. During the Triduum, we hear some of the church’s most beautiful prayers, Scripture Reading, and music.
The celebration of the Easter Triduum opens with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its climax in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.
The Triduum brings us into the very heart of our relationship with Jesus, and his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. By dying, Christ destroyed our death; by rising, he restored our life. Through his paschal mystery, the Lord redeemed the human race and gave perfect glory to our Heavenly father.
Holy Thursday, during which the Mass of the Lord’s Supper takes place, is a memorial of the institution of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthoods. This Mass is a memorial of that love by which Christ’s mission and sacrifice are perpetuated in the world.
On Holy Thursday, the priest washes the feet of representatives chosen from the community. This washing symbolizes the service and charity of Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve. It also refers to our Baptism, serving as a reminder to all of us of the connection between our baptism and the responsibility to serve others as Christ did.
The Mass ends with a procession of the Body of Christ to the tabernacle, where we are encouraged to spend time in silent prayer and meditation with our Lord. It is a symbolic re-enactment of Christ’s disciples being present with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus implores them to pray with him, as he awaits his betrayal, arrest, torture and death on a cross.
After the Holy Thursday celebration of the Last Supper, we invite everyone to come and pray before the Blessed Sacrament until 10 pm. Afterwards, the tabernacle will remain open/empty, and the fonts at the Church entrances will be emptied of all holy water until the conclusion of the Easter Vigil celebration.
It is called ‘Good’ Friday because it is “...the day that the Church commemorates its own origin and its mission to extend to all peoples the blessed effects that Jesus Christ's passion and death won for the faithful. For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there care form the sublime sacrament of the whole Church.” As such, the faithful are asked to fast in honour of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare themselves in sharing more deeply in the joy of has resurrection.
The Good Friday celebration recounts the suffering and death of Christ – and does not celebrate his resurrection. It is NOT a Mass. The celebration is divided into three parts beginning with the Liturgy of the Word, where the Passion and the death of our Lord as Calvary is proclaimed. The Liturgy of the Word ends with the ten great intercessions, which are prayed throughout all Catholic Churches on this day. Part two involves the Veneration of the Cross, where the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross is symbolically relived. We are given the opportunity to venerate the cross and to recall that it was upon the wood of the cross that our salvation was won. Thirdly using the Eucharist which was consecrated on Holy Thursday evening, the sombre celebration ends with a brief Communion service. With a spirit of hope and thanksgiving, we consume His Body, mindful that he was crucified on this fateful day.
On Holy Saturday, we are invited to continue the solemn paschal fast which we began on Good Friday. We are also called to remain in recollection at the tomb of the Lords, meditating on his suffering and death. The solitude and despair of this day gives way to the Easter Vigil where mourning is transformed into the joy of the resurrection.
During the most solemn vigil, the people of God keep watch as they wait the resurrection of the Lord and celebrate it in the sacraments of initiation. It is a most wondrous and beautiful celebration!
At the Easter Vigil, we gather in darkness, and light the new fire of creation and the Easter/Paschal Candle. The candle represents Jesus the Christ, who has risen from the shadow of death and has won from us the brightness of forgiveness and the joy of eternal life. In a darkened church alight with the flame of Christ and the candles of the faithful, the Exsultet is sung – a solemn proclamation of Christ’s resurrection.
The Exsultet is followed by several readings from Old Testament Scripture where we are called to meditate on all the wonderful things that God has done for his people from the beginning.
After the homily, the new water of baptism is blessed, our Catechumens and Candidates are baptized and confirmed, and we renew our baptismal promises. Finally, we celebrate the Eucharist, made possible through Christ’s death and resurrection. Together, we gather around the Table of the Lord, partake of his sacred Body and Blood, and are united as one body and one spirit.
Strengthened by this divine sacrifice, each of us is then sent forth, in joy, to love and serve all of God’s people.
Laity's Role in God's Plan for the World
November 20, 2016
The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled "The Co-responsibility of the lay Faithful in the Church and the World". This pastoral letter explores the great responsibility of the laity in God's plan for the world, in which they are not simply collaborators of the clergy but are truly "co-responsible" for the Church's being and acting. It notes the unique mission of the laity as being "in the world" and transforming it from within through their life and witness. It also discusses the danger of clericalism, and considers several areas of society today that stand in need of the transforming power of the Gospel brought by the Church's lay faithful in communion with members of the clergy and consecrated life.
The Bishops of the Commission insist on the importance of promoting the lay vocation. "Bishops and priests must do their utmost to foster the sense of the co- responsibility of the laity. The daily contact with the internal life of the Church must not lead the hierarchy and clergy to mistrust the authentic responsibility of the laity, even implicitly, nor should it lead them to reduce that responsibility merely to consultation on material or worldly matters" (no. 9).
Dated the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, 2016, the Bishops conclude their document by expressing their hope that "all the members of the Body of Christ take up together the responsibility of bringing Christ, the only Saviour, to the world, in a spirit of family, friendship, and communion."
Genuflect, or bow?
April 24, 2016
When do we genuflect in church, and when do we bow?
One is supposed to genuflect (lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground) whenever one passes before the Blessed Sacrament reposed within a tabernacle (General Instruction of the Roman Missal). One is also supposed to give a bow of the body whenever one passes in front of the altar (Ceremonial of Bishops).
The former discipline takes precedence over the latter. Thus, if the Blessed Sacrament is in a tabernacle on or near the altar, one genuflects and does not bow. If there is no tabernacle on or near the altar, or if the tabernacle is empty, one bows to reverence the altar and does not genuflect.
The Church’s laws state that one is supposed to make the appropriate sign of reverence whenever one passes in front of the altar or tabernacle. The exception it makes is for people who are carrying articles in procession, such as a cross, a candle or a book of the Gospels. These people are not supposed to genuflect or make a bow of the body (Ceremonial of Bishops). A bow of the head, on the other hand, would be all right, although the law does not seem to mandate it specifically in this circumstance.
The same would seem to apply when carrying something in front of the altar, such as cruets, a ciborium, etc., to avoid the danger of dropping the article or spilling its contents. So if you are carrying something, neither genuflect nor make a bow of the body. If anything, merely bow your head. This is especially the case if you are carrying the Lord’s body or blood.
In former years, when Communion rails were common, during distribution of Communion the priest would pass in front of the altar and tabernacle without making a sign of reverence. His back would be turned to them – the tabernacle often would be empty and left open to signify this – and he had Jesus in his hands at the moment, which required his utmost attention and care.