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 In the Sacred Triduum, the Church solemnly celebrates the greatest mysteries of our redemption, keeping by means of special celebrations the memorial of her Lord, crucified, buried, and risen.

(Cf. The Roman Missal, p.329)

Let us Journey With Jesus Through the Triduum


The summit of the Liturgical Year is the Easter Triduum—begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

The single celebration of the Triduum marks the end of the Lenten season, and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.

The liturgical services that take place during the Triduum are:




Today we recall, in tender fashion, what the Master did and said on the night before He died, at that Last Supper Passover meal. He showed His love to the end – and that love is still shown to us in the Blessed Sacrament.

According to the Church’s ancient tradition, all Masses without a congregation are prohibited on this day.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated in the evening, at a convenient hour, with the full participation of the whole local community and with all the priests and clergy exercising their ministry.

Priests who have already celebrated the chrism Mass or a Mass for the convenience of the faithful may concelebrate again at the evening Mass.

For Pastoral reasons the local Ordinary may permit another Mass to be celebrated in churches and public or semipublic oratories in the evening or, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning, but exclusively for those who are in no way able to take part in the evening Mass. Such Masses must not be celebrated for the advantage of private person or prejudice the principal evening Mass.

Holy communion may be given to the faithful only during Mass, but may be brought to the sick at any hour of the day.

If the local ordinary permits one or more additional Masses of the Lord’s Supper, in accord with the rubrics, the washing of feet may take place at such Masses.

The tabernacle should be entirely empty; a sufficient amount of bread should be consecrated at this Mass for the communion of clergy and laity today and tomorrow.



There is no Mass today. Today in sorrow the Church mourns the Master’s death, reverences the cross on which our salvation was achieved, a marvels at this life of obedience unto death. We read today the Passion Narrative from St. John’s Gospel.

1. According to the Church’s ancient tradition, the sacraments are not celebrated today or tomorrow.

2. The altar should be completely bare, without cloths, candles, or cross.

3. The celebration of the Lord’s passion takes place in the afternoon, about three o’clock, unless pastoral reasons suggest a later hour. The celebration consists of three parts: liturgy of the word, veneration of the cross, and holy communion.

Holy communion may be given to the faithful only at the celebration of the Lord’s passion, but may be brought at any hour of the day to the sick who cannot take part in this service.

4. The priest and deacon, wearing red Mass vestments, go to the altar. There they make a reverence and prostrate themselves, or they may kneel. All pray silently for a while.

5. Then the priest goes to the chair with the ministers. He faces the people and, with hands joined, sings or says one of the prayers.




On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.

On this day holy communion may be given only as viaticum.



From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday


Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.


Cf. From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday (Pg. 43, 439, 451. 462-463)                    Christian Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours; Copyright ©Daughters of St. Paul, USA.



During the Night – The Easter Vigil

1. In accord with ancient tradition, this night is one of vigil for the Lord (Ex 12:42). The Gospel of Luke (12:35ff) is a reminder to the faithful to have their lamp burning ready, to be like men awaiting their master’s return so that when he arrives, he will find them wide awake and will seat them at his table.

2. The night vigil is arranged in four parts:

a) a brief service of light;

b) the liturgy of the word, when the Church meditates on all the wonderful things God has done for his people from the beginning;

c) the liturgy of baptism, when new members of the Church are reborn as the day of resurrection approaches; and

d) the liturgy of the eucharist, when the whole Church is called to the table which the Lord has prepared for his people through his death and resurrection.

3. The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.

4. Even if the Vigil Mass takes place before midnight, the Easter Mass of the resurrection is celebrated.

Those who participate in the Mass at night may receive communion again at the second Mass of Easter Sunday.

5. Those who celebrate of concelebrate the Mass at night may celebrate or concelebrate the second Mass of Easter Sunday.

6. The priest and deacon wear white Mass vestments.

Candles should be prepared for all who take part in the vigil.

(Cf. The Vatican II Sunday Missal, Daughters of St. Paul, USA)



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