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
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - At his general audience on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI urged the 11,000 pilgrims gathered to hear his message to enter into the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
He told them - and he reminds us - that those who fully participate in these Liturgical celebrations "are invited to experience the transformation brought about by love."
The Easter Triduum (Three Days) begins with Holy Thursday. It marks the end of the forty days of Lent and the beginning of the three-day celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday.
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us of the extraordinary significance of the Triduum with this explanation:
"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." (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, # 18)
These last Forty Days were a time of preparation for these Three days. These three days lead us to an empty tomb and into an Octave, eight days, of celebrating the Resurrection. They introduce an entire liturgical season, the Easter Season, which lasts for Fifty days until Pentecost.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us: "Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy".
"It really is a "year of the Lord's favor." The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and the kingdom of God enters into our time."
"Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter "the Great Sunday" and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week "the Great Week." The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him." (CCC #1168, 1169)
At the center of our Liturgical Calendar as Catholic Christians are the Three days we celebrate, the Triduum. Good Liturgy is not simply a re-enactment of something that happened over 2000 years ago but an actual participation in the events themselves through living faith.
These events are outside of time and made present in our Liturgical celebrations and in our reception of the Sacraments. Just as every Mass/Divine Liturgy is an invitation to enter into the sacrifice of Calvary which occurred once and for all.
We will attend the Last Supper and receive the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We will enter into the deep meaning of the Holy Priesthood.
We will be invited to pour ourselves out like the water in the basins used to wash feet on Holy Thursday.
We will be asked with the disciples in the Gospel accounts we will hear proclaimed, will we watch with the Lord.
We will be invited to enter with Him into his anguish by imitating His Holy surrender in his Sacred Humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Through the stark and solemn Liturgy of the Friday we call "Good", we will stand at the Altar of the Cross where heaven is rejoined to earth and earth to heaven, along with the Mother of the Lord.
We will enter into the moment that forever changed - and still changes - all human History, the great self gift of the Son of God who did for us what we could never do for ourselves by - in the words of the ancient Exultet - "trampling on death by death".
We will wait at the tomb and witness the Glory of the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation.
Let us enter fully into the Sacred Triduum. The Great Three Days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter call us to be transformed by love.
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