The Church is about to enter the sacred days of Triduum. Triduum is my favorite part of our Catholic liturgical tradition. For those who may not be familiar with the term, Triduum refers to the three holy days of holy week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.
We come together on these days to tell our story, to remember, to ritualize, and finally to celebrate the hope of the resurrection and welcome new members of our Christian family.
We open our hearts to the call to service on Holy Thursday, remembering Christ’s love for his friends and his model of service and love.
We open our hearts to those who experience violence, oppression, and suffering on Good Friday, remembering Jesus who carried the cross on which he would die.
We open our hearts to joy and hope at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday, when we stand again at the tomb and realize, along with the women, that Christ is risen!
The journey through Triduum is always a transformative one for me. Part of my love of the Triduum might be the fact that even though I was raised Catholic and went to 12 years of Catholic school, I never really experienced it until I came back to the Church as an adult in my 20s. My first Triduums were experienced as part of a parish faith community (St. Philip Neri in Portland, staffed by the Paulist Fathers) that took these days seriously and journeyed together in a meaningful way.
In fact, when I reflect upon my own personal vocation discernment journey, I realize that Triduum played a key role. I will never forget the experience of Triduum when my mother was dying. Journeying with Jesus through these days while at the same time journeying with my mother through her own suffering was quite powerful, and caused some major shifts in my own relationship with God and understanding of suffering. It also helped me to realize that perhaps I had a role to play, no matter how small, in alleviating some of the suffering in the world. Pain and death are not the end of the story.
The next year was my first Triduum after my mother’s death. I was slowly re-entering my life, and getting very involved again in the parish. So that year, not only was I at Holy Thursday, I helped with the feet washing. Not only was I at the Good Friday Walk of the Cross, I helped to carry the cross with my friends from the Peace and Justice Commission. Not only was I at the Easter Vigil service, I had spent most of the day decorating the church with my friends and helped to clean up after to get ready for Easter Sunday liturgy.
Through it all, I was alive like I had never felt alive. I had purpose and community and light and love. A few weeks later, I received a nudge from my pastor, inviting me to reflect on that feeling and consider if perhaps God was calling me to a religious vocation. The seeds were planted in the deep soil of our Christian faith.
This Holy Week will be a more low key one for me, a time for rest, renewal, and rejoicing. I hope and pray that it is a blessed week for you wherever and however you are marking these days.
Blessings of peace to you as we anticipate the joy of Easter!
"We must be signs of hope and healing in the midst of the cultural reality in which we find ourselves."
Ann Rutan, CSJP