Friday, April 10, 2009
The Easter Triduum
The Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, is one of my favorite times of the year. In the Church we take this special days to commemorate the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and the faith we hold so dear. Until I was a student at Saint Anselm I never fully grasped the beauty of the Triduum, and Easter for that matter. Of course, on a deep and spiritual level I understood the great beauty and significance of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, however I failed to see the beauty in the Church's celebration of them. Being home this week I am excited to see old friends and family, and also to be participating in the life of the Church during this special time.
Tuesday evening (not part of the Triduum), I joined the nine other seminarians and served at the Cathedral's Chrism Mass. The Chrism Mass is the Mass in which the Bishop blesses all of the oils that will be used to welcome R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults)Candidates into the Church at the Easter Vigil. The Mass was beautiful and was attended by people from every Church in the state.
Holy Thursday night I helped at Saint Marie's at the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the Eucharistic Procession that followed. The procession was a powerful witness of faith, as over six hundred people processed almost a mile from Saint Marie's to Sacred Heart, by candlelight, at night. The priest carried the Eucharist, and the people all carried candles and sang hymns. It was beautiful to make the journey with the parish community, and to sing and witness as people peered out their windows as we went by.
Friday was a busy day for this seminarian, as we helped out with three services, as there are no masses celebrated on Good Friday. In the morning I went to the cemetery where the youth group presented the stations of the crosses to over 700 people, mostly young families. The did a great job and were reverent. Later in the afternoon I helped at the services at 3 and 7pm. The Good Friday service is very stark and devoid of music and the usual joy associated with celebration. The most powerful portion of the service is the veneration of the cross when people come forward and kiss the cross. I do not know exactly what it is, but I always find the veneration of the cross to be one of the most beautiful times in the Church.
It is currently 1:00am (for some reason the time stamp on the blog posting is off) and I am just back to my room after the Easter Vigil. I always love the Easter Vigil because it brings together all of Salvation History and many of the elements of our faith. As a seminarian the Easter Vigil is a little stressful as there is a lot going on, as there are baptisims, confirmations, first communions, lots of readings, lots of incense and bells as well as candle lighting. Thankfully at Saint Marie's there are tons of brilliant altar servers and volunteers who make everything run like clock work. It was truly amazing to see everyone in action.
#1. I always find the baptisms and confirmations at the Easter Vigil to be expecially moving. Seeing people come into the Church, and others returning to it, is always a moment of great joy. This year there were 19 people in the RCIA class, ranging from the very young to the elderly. It was nice to see them join the community of faith and to see them welcomed with such joy.
#2. Ouch! At the end of the Mass Father Marc invited the two of us who were seminarians connected to the parish to stand up and be recognized. As we came forward I slammed my head into the ornamentation above our seats. It hurt like the dickens, and yet I had to pretend it never happened. I am not sure if anyone noticed, but my head sure did.
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