During Holy Week, we draw our focus to the Triduum, a celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord .
By: Rev. J.D. Jaffe, Director, Office of Vocations
Holy Week is upon us. Jesus has made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and now arrest, torture, betrayal, and death await Him.
Don’t miss out on the graces available in His suffering! The Holy Week liturgies allow us to accompany Jesus in the last moments of His earthly life, and so many Catholics aren’t even aware of all they involve.
Whether or not you have previously participated in the ceremonies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, dare to delve into the mysteries this year. They provide excellent fodder for meditation on one’s vocation: self-sacrifice, the joy of self-emptying for others, and especially God’s power to “make all things new” in the power of Christ’s Resurrection.
For an even deeper experience, make it personal: as you meditate on Christ’s sufferings during Holy Week, remember that Jesus Christ suffered and died not only for all of us but also for each of us.
Holy Thursday – At the Last Supper, Jesus speaks intimately to His Disciples (and thus to me). As He prepares to lay down His life, He leaves us His Body and Blood to strengthen us to follow Him. He initiates the Apostles into the sacred office of the Priesthood, and He reveals His desire for unity and charity among all people, wanting us to symbolically wash each other’s feet. After the Mass, accompany Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with Him, remember ways you have betrayed Him and reflect on the merciful act of redemption He is about to perform for you. Most churches keep an Altar of Repose throughout the night where we can stay and comfort Him.
Good Friday – Though the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday, the Passion is recounted in the Liturgy, celebrated in the afternoon. As you reflect on the Seven Last Words of Christ and kiss and embrace the cross as the instrument of your salvation, commit yourself to take up your own cross and follow Jesus wherever He may lead. The water flowing from His heart as He expires at 3 p.m. is what makes that the Hour of Mercy. Accompany Jesus along the Via Crucis (the Stations of the Cross), remembering that each drop of blood spilled was for your salvation.
Holy Saturday – This is a quiet day for meditation as Christ lies in the tomb. The Tabernacles are empty! His absence can help us reflect on what life would be like without His salvific Sacrifice, and makes us more aware of the debt of gratitude we owe. In our need for Him, we accompany His mother in her sorrow (this is why Saturdays have been devoted to Mary).
The Resurrection – The Easter Vigil, called the “Liturgy of all liturgies” by St. Augustine, recounts the entire economy of salvation. The churches start out in darkness with the lighting of the Paschal Candle. The Liturgy of the Word traces God’s work from Creation through the Gospel of the empty tomb; Alleluia He is Risen! The Liturgy of Baptism reminds us that we are new creations. The whole Church comes to life again as Jesus rises from the dead. Easter Sunday liturgies continue the celebration and present different accounts of the Resurrection.
These mysteries represent the pinnacle of our Holy Faith. Deeply living the agony of Jesus’ passion and the glory of His Resurrection can be a poignant reminder of what it means to be Christian. God has created each one of us for a specific purpose as an agent of grace. Through each of us, He wants to share His Own divine life with the world!
Meditate on Christ’s amazing Passion. Approach this sacred time understanding that God wants to reveal Himself more fully to you. This is the perfect time to ask Him how He wants you to share in His mission in the world.