Check out this article from Busted Halo about the Triduum!
The Triduum (TRIH-du-um) is the time of the Church year when we celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This three-day celebration begins with the Holy Thursday Mass and continues on Good Friday with the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. At the end of this liturgy, we leave the church in silence, waiting to celebrate the glory of our Lord’s resurrection. Then, on Saturday at sun down, the Church re-gathers to celebrate the final, and most grand, moment of the Triduum: the Resurrection of our Lord.
The Triduum is somewhat like a three-day prayer marathon, and if you are a novice there may be some rituals that are unfamiliar to you. This guide will help you walk and pray through the liturgies of the Triduum.
The Mass on Holy Thursday is commonly known as the Feast of the Lord’s Supper. This Mass is a time for Catholics to remember the Last Supper where Jesus and his apostles gathered to celebrate Passover. In the Holy Thursday celebration, two ritual actions stand out among the rest: the Washing of the Feet and the Celebration of the Eucharist.
The Washing of the Feet
At the Last Supper, Jesus took a basin and a towel, got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of all of his apostles. After this action he commanded the apostles, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:15). This is Jesus’s commandment: Just as Jesus has been a servant to his apostles, so the apostles must go out into the world and be servants to everyone around them.
We are called to do the same in our daily lives. Well, we are not called literally to wash each other’s feet (though sometimes that may be the case). The action of washing one another’s feet reminds us of the call to humble servitude. Foot washing is not a re-enactment or re-creation of a past event, but rather, it is a commemorative action that reminds us that God calls us first and foremost to be servants to others in our daily lives.
The ritual washing of the feet can take place in many ways. Some churches choose to have 12 people, who represent the apostles, have their feet washed by the priest presiding over the celebration. Other churches invite the entire gathered community to have its feet washed (this particular tradition is very powerful because everyone is invited to come and have their feet washed by someone else in their community). However the ritual takes shape (whether 24 or 600 feet are washed), foot washing should always be a reminder that Christ has called us to be servants to the entire world.
The Celebration of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Procession
At the very first Last Supper, Jesus also instituted the Eucharist for the Church. At this Holy Thursday celebration, we are reminded of who we are in Jesus Christ and that, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, we are and we become even more the Body of Christ together.
At the conclusion of the Holy Thursday celebration, there is no concluding prayer. Once the celebration of the Eucharist is completed, there is a Eucharistic Procession (where the Eucharist that is left from Communion is processed to a Chapel of Reservation). This procession to the Chapel of Reservation reminds us of Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed so fervently through the night. The entire community is invited to join in this procession and then join in the silent prayer and adoration until night prayer is prayed and the Eucharist is put in the Tabernacle. The gathered community leaves in silence only to return in prayer the next day for the Good Friday celebration.
Reflection Questions for Holy Thursday
Who are those people who need our help the most?
Am I willing to get down on my own hands and knees and help those who are unable to help themselves?
What does the sacrament of the Eucharist mean to me?
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