Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Triduum

Easter Triduum is the commencement of the exciting journey of three days leading to the Lord's Resurrection on Easter.

The Easter Triduum is also known as the Holy/Paschal Triduum as it observes the Paschal Mysteries and the triduum, as the name suggests, spans for three days and consists of the Passover on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Holy Vigil Saturday/Easter.

Holy Thursday, marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum and observes the event of the Lord's Supper on the night before He was betrayed by his own disciple.
The significance of this meal is symbolic in the mass celebration in the Catholic Church, and also the foundations of Christianity.
Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, shows us Jesus's preparations for his own death on the cross for us sinners.

The highlights of the celebration of the Lord's Supper:
1. The washing of the feet - The priest reenacts Jesus's actions of washing his disciples' feet by washing the feet of twelve parishioners selected by the Church.
The meaning of this event is stated by Jesus himself that by the washing of the feet, they are sharing a part of Jesus.

2. Breaking of Bread and transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ
During the supper, the Lord lifted his cup and bread and performed his last miracle; offering himself for us. The bread and wine are His Body and His Bloo; in which we share a part of him as well.
We are joined in union with the Lord (though not worthy), as we drink from his cup and eat from his bread.
Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ

3. Silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
The congregation is to leave the church quietly after the eucharistic celebration for the observance of the Lord's final hours at the garden while waiting for his death.
The altars are all stripped bare and the Cross and all the statues in the church are covered with a purple cloth to observe the solemn period (mourning).
The adoration can continue until midnight.

This is followed by the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
It is important to note that Good Friday is the only day in the entire church calendar without a mass; and is only a service.
This is because a mass is always synonymous with a celebration, and Good Friday marks the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ (His Death), and therefore, it is not something to celebrate about.

The Good Friday Service is also divided into three parts:
1. Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross precedes the Good Friday service, as we follow the final of Jesus Christ who bore his own cross on His back towards His Death.
He died for us, and He suffered continuously in pain, humiliation and grief during his last hours. He was just as much human as you and me, which was according to the Scriptures as He was made to feel the pain inflicted on his own flesh like a man.
His death was cruel, but it was God, His Father's will.
God, is Our Father, and He Loved Us so much that He sent us His ONLY Son to redeem us from our sins.
At the part where Jesus Christ breathed his last, the whole church would observe this in silence with bowed heads and kneeling to mourn his death.

I would never be able to hold back my tears whenever I thought of His suffering on the cross for us, and I guess that is the reason the Church always hang a Crucifix inside the church or at the altar to remind us all of the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ.

2. Veneration of the Cross
The people in the church would make their way towards the altar servers/ministers holding the wooden cross to kiss the cross.
There will also be a box for donations (at your own will) for parishioners to contribute while kissing the cross.

3. Holy Eucharist

Good Friday, as I have always observed, is always raining, particularly around the 3pm period as it was also coincidentally the time of Jesus Christ's death.
Perhaps the recent years have seen changes in the weather due to the global warming, making the weather rather unpredictable.
This year, I did observe rainfall and thunderstorm inside the church during the service.

Holy Saturday is the period of observation of Jesus's lying in his tomb leading to His resurrection, which is the reason Holy Saturday is often known as the Holy Vigil/Easter Vigil.
The church combines the observation of Holy Saturday and staying vigil until the early Easter celebration.
This is by far, one of the longest running mass in the whole year as it usually takes around 3-4 hours, depending on the church.

The Holy Saturday is composed of four main parts:
1. Service of the Light
The church is in total darkness at the beginning of the mass and this is symbolic of Jesus's death and lying in the tomb, and also of how we all started out.
There was total darkness in the beginning of world, and Jesus Christ is our light.
The priest would say prayers and then light a bonfire upon which the big Easter candle (only used for sacred celebrations) is lit, and at the same time, proclaiming the words, "The Beginning and the End", "The Alpha and the Omega"/.

As the Easter Candle is lifted and led into procession into the church, the priest sings, "Christ Our Light" and to be responded by "Thanks be to God" by the congregation.
In some churches, the congregation and the priest gather outside the church and walk together in a procession into the church whereas in some others, the congregation are seated inside the church while the priest stands outside to light the fire.
The light from the Easter candle is then transferred to light the candles of each parishioner.
When the whole church is lighted up, it looks like a "Sea of Lights" to me, an indeed beautiful sight.
(The power in the church is turned off for this purpose and only candles are lighted).

2. Liturgy of the Word
Readings from the Old Testament are read during this time (at least seven readings), beginning with the creation at the start of the Bible, and one of the readings will also include that of the crossing of the Red Sea.
Before the Gospel, Alleluia is sung.
After the readings and the responsorial psalms, the ceremony will be followed by the Gloria where the bells and organs/musical instruments all are used loudly to signify the glorious moment.
The servers and the ministers would also use this period of time while the Gloria is sung to decorate the altar and to strip the cloth covering the statues in the Church.
(The unveiling of the statues and Cross)

3. Sacrament of Initiation (Baptism and Renewal of Baptismal Vows)
The new elects are presented to the Church for their baptism and confirmation ceremony as they join the Catholic family after a year of learning about Christianity. The rest of the church renews their baptismal vows and welcomes the new members of the Church.

4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

It is then the glorious celebration as the Church celebrates Easter and rejoices in the resurrection of the Lord.

Easter Sunday, is a day to rejoice in the Lord's rising and there is often morning mass celebrated in the church.
It is the most triumphant and joyous celebration of all, and is the main highlight in Christianity. Easter is observed as an even more important celebration than Christmas as we truly see and experience the Love of God and the redemption of our sins.

Praise the Lord, Alleluia!
(Alleluia is also used during the Easter period to sing praises to the Lord, as it means rejoicing and its usage start from Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday mass after a month of not being used during the Lent Season).

Christ is Risen, Alleluia Alleluia!~


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