Join us in celebrating the Easter Triduum

Published: March 26, 2015

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Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will celebrate Palm Sunday Masses at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28 and 12:05 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

On Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, Catholics reenact the events of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem to mark the beginning of Holy Week, which commemorates the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, who triumphed over death and made our salvation possible. 

The bishop will celebrate the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral on Monday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. Priests serving across the diocese concelebrate this Mass, during which they also renew their commitment to priestly service. Oils to be used statewide in the coming year are presented for the bishop's blessing.

These include the oil for the sick, used in anointing the sick; the oil for catechumens, used during baptism; and the oil for the sacred chrism, which is the primary anointing oil. It is used in the sacraments of initiation and holy orders as well as special acts of dedication. The word "chrism" means "consecrated oil".

Lent ends with the celebration of the Easter Triduum, the summit of the entire liturgical year. It takes place from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though it takes place over a three-day period, liturgically the triduum is "one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery."

Bishop Taylor will celebrate the triduum at the Cathedral. The schedule is as follows: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, April 2 at 6:30 p.m.; Good Friday Passion of the Lord, April 3 at 12:05 p.m.; and the Easter Vigil Mass (Holy Saturday), April 4 at 8 p.m.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, during which we mark the institution of the Eucharist and the washing of feet. Both were commands of Jesus.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." (John 6:53) And "If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:14-15)

Maundy Thursday, the traditional title, reflects this need to serve. It comes from the Latin, "mandatum novum" ("a new command"), which is based on John 13:34: "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another."

On Good Friday of the Lord's Passion, we fast, abstain and relive Jesus' suffering and death so we never forget God's unconditional love and desire for us to be saved. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16) This is the only day of the year we do not celebrate Mass.

This sober service includes the liturgy of the Word, general intercessions, veneration of the cross and reception of the Eucharist. As we enter into Christ's passion and death, today's second reading offers a powerful reflection:

"In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." (Hebrews 5:7-9)

On Holy Saturday, we gather for the climax of the Easter Triduum. "On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting his return in glory. It is the turning point of the triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ's passage from death to life." The Easter Vigil Mass consists of four main parts: the Service of Light, the Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Adults will join the Catholic Church by receiving the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist in parishes worldwide on this night. Witness the miracle of new life in Christ by attending the Easter Vigil Mass in your area. The list of all those entering the Church in Arkansas may be found in the April 4 issue of Arkansas Catholic.

The word "Easter" comes from Old English, meaning the "East." The sun, which rises in the East, is a symbol for Christians of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world. The Paschal Candle is a key symbol of this divine light, which is Christ. It is kept near the ambo throughout the Easter season and lit for all liturgical celebrations.

To see the Holy Week Mass schedule for your area, a list for live Stations of the Cross or other special events during Holy Week and Easter, visit Arkansas Catholic. To learn more about Holy Week, see the video below from Busted Halo.