Easter Triduum begins on Holy Thursday with the evening Mass of the Lord's
Supper, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of
the Lord on Holy Saturday, reaches its high point in the Easter vigil, and
concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.
Season of Lent ends on Thursday of Holy Week. Then the Church remembers the
death and resurrection of Jesus during the Easter Triduum. These three days are
the most important time of the Church year.
Mass of the Lord's Supper
On Holy Thursday we remember the Last Supper and that Jesus gave himself in the
Eucharist. We recall that Jesus chose his apostles to serve and lead the Church.
Remembering that Jesus washed their feet at the Last Supper, the priest washes
the feet of members of the congregation. Holy Thursday is a special day for all
priests since it is a day to mark the beginning of the ordained priesthood.
evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday is a beautiful and joyful
celebration. During the singing of the Gloria, the church bells are rung and
then remain silent until the
Vigil of Holy Saturday night. Because Holy Thursday is a feast day of the Blessed
Sacrament, there is a procession of the Eucharist after the Mass to an altar of
repose set up for the occasion. Then the main altar is stripped bare.
On Good Friday we remember the death of Jesus. According to an ancient custom,
Mass is not celebrated on this day or before the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
The celebration of the Lord's passion and death takes place in the afternoon.
There are three parts to the liturgy of the day: the Liturgy of the Word; the
Veneration of the Cross; and Holy Communion with Hosts consecrated on Holy
On Holy Saturday the Church meditates on the suffering and death of Jesus. Then
the Church gathers to celebrate the Easter Vigil. The celebration of the Easter
Vigil should take place at night, beginning after nightfall or ending before
the dawn of Sunday.
Easter Vigil has four parts: The Service of Light; the Liturgy of the Word; the
Liturgy of Baptism; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
the Service of Light, all the lights in the church are turned off and a fire is
prepared outside the church. Then the fire is blessed and the Paschal Candle is
lighted from the new fire. The candle is carried into the dark church. It is a
sign of Christ, the Light of the World, who has overcome the darkness of sin
and death. The lighted Paschal Candle provides the only illumination. Then,
from the flame of the Paschal Candle, members of the congregation light the
small candles that they are holding. The flame is passed from person to person until
everyone is holding a lighted candle. The light from the Paschal Candle and all
the small candles provides the only illumination in the church during this
portion of the liturgy. This section concludes with the singing of the Easter
Proclamation, the Exsultet.
the Liturgy of the Word, the story of God's great love for us is proclaimed in
readings from the Old and New Testaments. There are seven Old Testaments texts.
Although it would be preferable that all seven Old Testament readings be proclaimed,
the number of readings may be reduced if the circumstances necessitate.
However, three Old Testament readings should be proclaimed. Minimally, two Old
Testament readings must be proclaimed. The readings recall the great events of
salvation, beginning with creation itself and were selected to dispose people
to celebrate the sacraments of Christian initiation with great faith.
the Liturgy of Baptism, those who have been preparing for Baptism and their
godparents are called forward. The priest and ministers then go to the
baptismal font", if this can be seen by the congregation. Otherwise a
vessel of water is placed in the sanctuary. After the candidates are baptized,
all present stand with lighted candles and renew their baptismal promises as a sign
that they share the new life of Jesus through his resurrection. The newly
baptized and confirmed await their first sharing in the Eucharist.
The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration
of the Eucharist. This is a joyous sharing in the sacrificial meal of Jesus
Christ, Lord and Risen Savior.