What is the Triduum?
September 13, 2020, 12:00 PM
The Triduum (literally, “three days”) is the liturgical celebration of the suffering (or “passion”), death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It begins with the evening of Holy Thursday, when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist, ordained the first priests, and entered into His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane through His crucifixion, death, and burial on Good Friday, to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. It follows the Jewish tradition of counting days from sundown. Since every Mass is the representation of the Paschal Mystery (i.e., the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ), the Triduum, celebrated the days when His dying and rising actually happened, marks the highpoint of the Church’s liturgical year. The Triduum should be seen as a single liturgical celebration spanning three days rather than three separate celebrations. This reality is expressed in the following ways: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday has no final blessing, the service (not a Mass) on Good Friday afternoon has no opening prayer or final blessing, and the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday has no opening prayer as in other Masses.
Christ’s dying and rising are inseparable. The power of His resurrection is already present in the crucifixion, transforming the very meaning of death for all of us. This is why His final words on the Cross were “it is finished” (Jn 19:30): He had already won the victory over sin and death. This is also why the gospel of Matthew tells us many saints rose from their graces right when He died (see Mt 27:52-53). Thus, we refer to “Good Friday.” Because of the resurrection, Christ’s death is our ultimate victory. If He had not died, He could not have conquered sin and death for us. By the one act of His dying and rising He redeemed the world so that we may be made one with Him.