Paschal Triduum

Tomorrow begins the Paschal Triduum – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These are the days leading up to Easter Sunday, and they’re pretty much the most important days of the year to Catholics – on Thursday you remember the Last Supper, on Friday the Crucifixion, and at Easter Vigil on Saturday night, the Resurrection.

What I find interesting is how you don’t have mass on Friday. You have Mass on Thursday – and it’s the one where you get to do the Gospel-reading-as-play, with the congregation taking the part of all the groups of people in the narrative – and on Saturday night you have Easter Vigil Mass, with its candle-lighting, several readings from all sorts of Old Testament books, baptisms, etc. But on Friday there’s no Mass celebrated, anywhere. It’s the day Jesus died, I guess, and so it would be inappropriate to celebrate his resurrection.

Or something like that. I confess I don’t understand it completely myself. But these are three of my favorite days of the year, because even if I don’t fully understand everything Catholicism has to say, I understand enough of it, and besides, the liturgies for these days are simply awe-inspiring. I wouldn’t like to have a four-hour-long mass every Sunday, but the Easter Vigil mass can be as long as it likes and I really won’t mind. It ought to be a marathon. It just seems appropriate.

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2 Responses to Paschal Triduum

  1. Mars says:

    I distinctly remember going to mass with my parents on Good Friday at two in the afternoon. When mass ended, it was the exact hour that Jesus supposedly died. Also, there’s a fair bit of theological writing about Jesus’ death which holds out that the act of Jesus’ dying for our sins is actually more important than the resurrection.

  2. I can see that argument, I think. The story would work decently on an emotional and literary level without the resurrection (God becomes incarnate, dies horribly, and thus redeems us and our sins are forgiven), but without the crucifixion the story doesn’t work (God becomes incarnate, then ascends back up to Heaven, and our sins are forgiven). The resurrection’s just an added bonus, so to speak.

    I’m not sure I agree with that argument, but I can understand making it, anyway.

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