Tenebrae and Triduum

Holy Week and Easter are times of the year when Catholics use words which we never use at other times of the year, and which perhaps leave us a little bemused if we’re not quite sure what they mean!

The Easter Triduum is the high point of the Church’s year, and consists of a liturgy in three acts over three successive days as we follow Christ through his Passion and Resurrection. It begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00pm in which we commemorate Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet, the institution of the Eucharist and his night of intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The “second act” of the Triduum is the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of the Lord at 3:00pm on Good Friday. We recall Christ’s death on the cross, by which the sins of the world are taken away. It is a hugely moving yet stark and solemn liturgy.

The climax of the whole liturgical year comes with the Easter Vigil beginning at 8:30pm on Holy Saturday, a dramatic celebration of Christ’s resurrection with full sensory immersion! The liturgy starts with the blessing of the new fire and the proclamation of the resurrection, continuing with a vigil of readings and psalms, celebration of baptism and confirmation, and first Mass of Easter. Appropriately enough, after the liturgy we celebrate with a joyful Paschal party in the Parish Room!

We warmly encourage those who are able to join us for the celebration of all three parts of the Triduum. The Vigil may be a little late for young children, but is an intensely moving experience for teenagers and adults. It is also much easier to find a seat at the Easter Vigil than at the packed Easter Sunday morning Mass.

A quieter celebration is the office of Tenebrae at 10:00am on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This is a meditative service of psalms, readings and prayers as we think on Christ’s passion and death. It lasts about 45 minutes, and is followed by an opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).