The word ‘triduum’ comes from the Latin for ‘3 days’. These are the 3 holiest days that we celebrate as Catholics.
The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins what is one liturgy celebrated over three days. Mass begins with the environment decorated and special vestments used – as would be fitting in any Jewish household preparing for the Passover.
Parishes may choose to welcome or honour the Oils that the parish receives from the Bishop for the use of the Community. The Oil of Catechumens might be presented by or to the Catechumens awaiting Baptism at Easter or members of the RCIA group. The Oil of the Sick might be presented to Sick parishioners or those who minister to the sick. The Chrism might be brought in by the Confirmation group of the previous year and presented to the Class about to be Confirmed.
During the singing of the Gloria in excelsis, the Bells of the Church and the Sanctuary are rung vigorously, and then fall silent until Easter Saturday Night.
The Gospel is the surprising gesture of the King – Our Lord Jesus – washing the feet of his disciples – the action normally reserved to the youngest child or the lowest slave. It is surprising in so many ways – and these surprising acts of necessary service become the models of the service all Christians render.
Generally, the Washing of the Feet is reserved to men.
Mass proceeds as normal for every Mass is a celebration of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist.
How to prepare:
- How can you as a family support the lowest, poorest? Many Parishes take up a special contribution for the Poor on Holy Thursday night – Non Perishables, Clothes. What can you share?
- Reflect on who’s feet God is asking you to wash?
- Come to mass dressed for the Passover – smart, not over the top.
- Be prepared to stay a while after Mass for quiet adoration.
The Mass of the Last Supper ends differently. Instead of a blessing and dismissal, the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to a place of repose or rest. This procession, with candles and incense follows our Lord’s plea to his disciples to stay awake and wait. Parishioners are invited to spend some time in quiet prayer, waiting, with the Lord. Adoration should be in silence and should not continue past midnight.
After the procession to the place of repose, the Altar and Sanctuary are stripped. Everything is laid bare. This is a beautiful and powerful experience of watching all that we are used to being removed in preparation for the great, quiet day – Good Friday