Easter: The heart of our faith

Within the Christian calendar, there is no more important period than the Easter Triduum.

                                   Easter: The heart of our faith

The Easter Triduum is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes on Easter Sunday evening.

During this time, the Church recalls the Passion, Crucifixion, Death, burial and Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

This period is the pinnacle of our faith, commemorating Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross, and His victory over death.

Beginning on Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, the Church celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This Mass commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus first uttered the immortal words celebrated in our liturgy, “Take, eat. This is my body.”

During this Mass, the priest will also wash the feet of a number of people, imitating Jesus washing His disciple’s feet.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the priest will move the Blessed Sacrament to an altar of repose where the faithful are encouraged to participate in Eucharistic adoration. Others may choose to engage in a Seven Churches Visitation, visiting seven churches to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at each church, imitating the visiting of the seven basilicas of Rome by early pilgrims.

The significance of Good Friday is marked by the fact it is the only aliturgical day in the Latin liturgical year, meaning the Mass is not celebrated on this day. The faithful are encouraged to fast and the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, traditionally at 3pm, the time when Jesus died upon the Cross. The altar is bare, without cross, candlesticks and altar cloths, and the holy water fonts are emptied. This feeling of emptiness is meant to remind us of the emptiness of a world without Christ.

On Holy Saturday, the Church remains in this way, as a reminder of the period Jesus’ body lay in the tomb while He languished in Hell.

The Easter Vigil on Saturday night marks the high point of the Easter Triduum, when the first Easter celebrations begin, marking the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Life swings back into the Church, as the altars are redecorated, catechumens are baptised or confirmed, and the holy water fonts are refilled. This celebration continues through Easter Sunday, as those unable to attend the Easter Vigil take part in rejoicing in the resurrection.

Easter Monday offers a day of reflection for Jesus sacrificing His life on Good Friday and rising again on Sunday. Although scripture does not detail any specific events on Easter Monday it does begin Jesus’ 40 days on earth before He ascended into heaven. During this time Jesus appeared at believers, healed the sick and spread the Word of God.

While only Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation, the public holidays allow many of us an opportunity to attend Mass every day from Thursday through to Monday, allowing us to fully experience the Easter Triduum.

To see your local parish bulletin or website for Easter Mass times.