So many were saying the week before Ash Wednesday, “I can’t believe it’s Lent
next week.” Now they are probably saying, “I can’t believe that Lent is half over.”
It is going fast, isn’t it?
Since we are midway through the FORTY days of Lent…now is the time to ready
ourselves for the heart of the entire liturgical year: The Triduum (Latin for
“THREE DAYS”). Everyone should be present. These days can’t be missed.
They give meaning to our Christian lives. These days include Holy Thursday all
the way through Easter Sunday. Now at first glance, you may think my math is
off. Thursday through Sunday is four days. However, the Church counts time
from sundown to sundown. So sundown on Holy Thursday through sundown on
Easter Sunday is a full three days.
And here’s another Church mathematical somersault: The “Three Days” actually
captures ONE liturgical event. So what does this mean? Holy Thursday we begin
with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (at 7:00 P.M.), this liturgy doesn’t have an
ending, except for silence. On Good Friday we take up on this day, where we left
off yesterday. Good Friday celebrates the Passion of the Lord (at 7:00 P.M.). This
liturgy has no beginning, except silence. It has no ending, except silence as well.
All because we are only half way through the ONE liturgy of the “Three Days.”
Then on Holy Saturday we gather for the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night (at
9:00 P.M.). We take up this night where we left off the previous night…we rebel
against sin and darkness by blessing fire and light. We read and relish all the
stories of God saving hopeless situations, obstacles too huge for humans to
manage, valleys too low to walk through, mountains too high to walk across.
Time and time again, God saves. What great, good news to hear! Then ultimately
God saves us from the dark, dank, dreary, dirt-filled grave of death, and raises us
to life. Who doesn’t need that kind of news these days?!
These aren’t just niceties…these aren’t just musings…this isn’t just so we say,
“isn’t that something.” But we too are taken, pulled and even pushed through to
places of safety and security, to places of light and love, to places of hope and
holiness through our encounter with the Lord. An encounter with the Lord is
called a Sacrament. On this holy night in which we keep watch, we keep vigil for
the dawn, we encounter God saving us through the waters of Baptism, God saving
us through the outpouring of God’s gifted Holy Spirit in Confirmation, God saving
us in bread that is meant to nourish more than just body, but it nourishes us to the
depth of our soul. All this so we can celebrate with great joy on Easter Sunday
(8:00 A.M., 10:00 A.M., Noon) and throughout Easter’s FIFTY days.
How’s that for a mathematical equation: 40 + 3 = 1 + 50.
My past math teachers would be shaking right about now, but that’s how the
Church counts.
Please carve out time in your schedules for these three days and this one liturgy.
To miss any part of it, would mean missing a lot. To make it all, would mean
Fr. Tom