Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, Paschal Triduum, or The Three Days, is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (the vigil of Good Friday) and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the three-day period therefore from the evening of Maundy Thursday (excluding most of Thursday) to the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.

Since the 1955 reform, the Easter Triduum, including as it does Easter Sunday, has been more clearly distinguished as a separate liturgical period. Previously, all these celebrations were advanced by more than twelve hours. The Mass of the Lord's Supper and the Easter Vigil were celebrated in the morning of Thursday and Saturday respectively, and Holy Week and Lent were seen as ending only on the approach of Easter Sunday.

After the Gloria in Excelsis Deo at the Mass of the Lord's Supper all church bells are silenced and the organ is not used. The period that lasted from Thursday morning to before Easter Sunday began was once, in Anglo-Saxon times, referred to as "the still days".

In the Roman Catholic Church, weddings, which were once prohibited throughout the entire season of Lent and during certain other periods as well, are prohibited during the Triduum. Lutherans still discourage weddings during the entirety of Holy Week and the Triduum.

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

  • On Good Friday, Christians recall the passion and crucifixion of Jesus.
  • In the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglo-Catholic rites, a cross or crucifix (not necessarily the one that stands on or near the altar on other days of the year) is ceremonially unveiled.(In pre-1955 services, other crucifixes were to be unveiled, without ceremony, after the Good Friday service.)
  • In Roman Catholicism, the clergy traditionally begin the service prostrate in front of the altar. Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday and the communion distributed at the Celebration of the Lord's Passion is consecrated on Holy Thursday, hence the pre-1955 name "Mass of the Presanctified". In Anglican/Episcopal churches, there is no prayer of consecration on Good Friday, and the Reserved Sacrament is distributed at services on that day.
  • Also in Roman Catholicism, images of saints may, in accordance with local custom, be veiled throughout the last two weeks of Lent. Votive lights before these images are not lit. Crucifixes that are movable are hidden, while those that are not movable are veiled until after the Good Friday service.
  • Roman Catholic faithful typically venerate the crucifix by kissing the feet of the corpus. Veneration of a simple wooden cross is common in Anglican/Episcopal worship, with the faithful touching and or kissing it.
  • Colors of vestments (and hangings, if kept) vary: no color, red, or black are used in different traditions. The Roman Catholic Church uses red vestments, symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ, but in the pre-1970 form of the Roman Missal the priest wears black, changing to violet for the communion part of the service. In Anglican/Episcopal services, black vestments are sometimes used. In The United Methodist Church, black is the liturgical colour used on Good Friday.

Holy Saturday

  • Holy Saturday is a commemoration of the day that Jesus lay in his tomb.
  • In the Roman Catholic Church, daytime Masses are never offered. In Anglican/Episcopal worship, there is no prayer of consecration or distribution of Reserved Sacrament on Holy Saturday, but a simple service of scripture readings and prayers may be held.
  • Known as Black Saturday in the Philippines.

Easter Sunday

  • A vigil service is held after nightfall on Holy Saturday, or before dawn on Easter Sunday, in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Many of the details that follow hold for Anglican/Episcopal as well as Roman Catholic worship.
  • The ceremony of darkness and light is held at the beginning of the Vigil Mass.
    • The paschal candle, representing Jesus' resurrection as the "return of light into the world," is lit.
    • The solemn procession to the altar with the Paschal candle is formed.
    • Once everyone has processed in, the Exsultet is intoned.
  • After the Exsultet, everyone is seated and listens to seven readings from the Old Testament and seven Psalms. At least three of these readings and associated psalms must be read, which must include the account of the first Passover from the Book of Exodus. Pastoral conditions are taken into account when deciding on the number of readings. These readings account salvation history, beginning with Creation. In Anglican/Episcopal worship, there are nine possible readings from the Old Testament, and a minimum of two must be read, which must include the account of Israel's deliverance at the Red Sea.
  • In Roman Catholic practice, during the Gloria at the Mass, the organ and church bells are used in the liturgy for the first time in two days.
    • If the lights of the Church have been previously left off, they are turned on as the Gloria begins.
  • The Paschal candle is used to bless the baptismal font to be used in the celebration of the sacrament.
  • The Great Alleluia is sung before the Gospel is read, Alleluia being used for the first time since before Lent.
  • People receiving full initiation in the Church, who have completed their training, are given the Sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist). In Roman Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal tradition, the Easter Vigil is an especially appropriate day for Holy Baptism.
  • In current practice, the use of lighting to signify the emergence from sin and the resurrection of Jesus varies, from the use of candles held by parishioners as well as candelabras lit throughout the church.
  • If statues and images have been veiled during the last two weeks of Lent, they are unveiled, without ceremony, before the Easter Vigil service begins.
  • Color of vestments and hangings: white, often together with gold, with yellow and white flowers often in use in many parishes.
  • Easter Masses are held throughout the day and are similar in content to the Easter Vigil Mass.

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