HOLY THURSDAY, GOOD FRIDAY, HOLY SATURDAY
"The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us;
The celebration of the Passion (Palm) Sunday opens the doors of Holy Week. Holy Week brings into focus the high point of our liturgical celebrations throughout the liturgical year; since we commemorate the Paschal Mystery of the life of Jesus Christ. It is Holy because we experience the passion, death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is the core of our Christian faith. The epitome of our salvation history. The centrality of our Christian belief, traditions and culture. A week of atonement, redemption and glorification leading to the revelation of the dignity and the honor of the entire human race.
That is why the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, #8 affirms, ”Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through His paschal mystery: dying He destroyed our death and rising He restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year.”
The Holy Triduum is the climactic point of Holy Week. The Latin word ”Triduum” means ”three days”; so it refers to Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. However, liturgically, Holy Triduum strictly begins on the evening of the Holy Mass (the Lord’s Supper) on Thursday through to the conclusion of the Vespers (Evening Prayers) of Easter Sunday. In principle, Lent actually ends before the Vespers (Evening Prayers) of Holy Thursday is celebrated.
Holy Thursday is technically referred to as Maundy Thursday. Again, the Latin word ”Maundy” means ”Commandment.” In this liturgical celebration we commemorate the Last Supper of our Lord in obedience to what He commanded us to do in His remembrance.
So to speak, we celebrate the anniversary of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. A response to the ultimate prayer of the Church; which is the Holy Mass. In this same liturgy we appreciate the institution of the ministerial priesthood. This vocation enables us to perpetuate the Holy Eucharist, convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners (the sacrament of reconciliation) and to preach the good news of salvation.
Finally, the Maundy Thursday brings into focus the promulgation of the new commandment of Love; Jesus said, ”Love one other as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). He demonstrated this with the washing of the feet of His 12 Apostles; thereby encouraging service.
On Good Friday we commemorate the passion of the Lord. A day Christ was executed on Mount Calvary. His crucifixion and death is the hinge between His ministry and His resurrection. Indeed, it brought to an end the yoke of sin on humanity. The mystery of the true sacrifice is unraveled on the cross not only atoning for our sins but also expiating us from the effects of sin: redemption from the slavery of sin.
In this liturgy, we venerate the Holy Cross to honor the suffering, passion and the death of Christ. It has become a symbol of victory and triumph to the human race; from there we draw our strength when sin glares at us. This Friday is Good because the cross has become the proof of the powerful love that God has for us.
The vigil of Holy Saturday is the Easter Vigil, the Holy Night. The Latin word ”vigilia” means ”wakefulness.” The church keeps awake, as it were, at the tomb, meditating on His passion and death and His descent into Hell, and awaiting His resurrection with prayer and fasting, waiting for the coming of the Lord. The full meaning of vigil takes place at night; so it does not begin before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Sunday.
The Church keeps this vigil with the service of the light and Easter proclamation (Exultet). Holy Church meditates on the wonderful works which the Lord God wrought for His people from the earliest times. We celebrate together with those new members reborn in Baptism. Finally, we are called to the table prepared by the Lord - a commemoration of His death and resurrection, until He comes.
In conclusion, the Sacred Paschal Triduum is meant to be dramatic, a ”reenactment” of events. The faithful are encouraged to imagine that they are ”actually present” at these events. However, the Holy Triduum actually celebrates the paschal mystery, but not history; the purpose ultimately is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus’ life.
Let the spirit of the Holy Triduum strengthen your faith, affirm your holiness, recreate in you a better version of yourself, make you steadfast in hope and fearless in the search for justice and peace. Remember, there is no Easter without Good Friday! Indeed, every suffering in your Christian calling will surely be crowned with Victory and glory. Remain focused and make Christ your priority. His resurrection is our pride.
Stay blessed and journey with Christ to the cross. Take a sober meditation about your life, vocation and destiny in this world.
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.