Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Easter Triduum

Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, or Paschal Triduum is the period of three days from Holy (Maundy) Thursday (seen as beginning with the service of the preceding evening) to Easter Day. It begins with the Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper and ends with evening prayer on Sunday. It remembers the events as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.
Since the 1955 reform by Pope Pius XII, the Easter Triduum, including as it does Easter Sunday, has been more clearly distinguished as a separate liturgical period. Previously, all these celebrations were advanced by more than twelve hours. The Mass of the Lord's Supper and the Easter Vigil were celebrated in the morning of Thursday and Saturday respectively, and Holy Week and Lent were seen as ending only on the approach of Easter Sunday.
After the Gloria in Excelsis Deo at the Mass of the Lord's Supper all church bells are silenced and the organ is not used. The period that lasted from Thursday morning to before Easter Sunday began was once, in Anglo-Saxon times, referred to as "the still days".
In the Roman Catholic Church, weddings, which were once prohibited throughout the entire season of Lent and during certain other periods as well, are prohibited during the Triduum. Lutherans still discourage weddings during the entirety of Holy Week and the Triduum.

Mass of the Lord's Supper
The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening before Good Friday.
                During the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, all church bells may be rung and the organ played; afterwards, bells and organ are silenced until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil.
                After the homily of the Mass a ritual washing of the feet is envisaged.
                The Mass concludes with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose.
                Eucharistic adoration is encouraged after this, but if continued after midnight should be done without outward solemnity.
The liturgical colour for the Mass vestments and other ornaments is white.

Good Friday
                On Good Friday, Christians recall the Passion and crucifixion of Jesus.
                In the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglo-Catholic rites, a cross or crucifix (not necessarily the one which stands on or near the altar on other days of the year) is ceremonially unveiled. (In pre-Vatican II services, other crucifixes were to be unveiled, without ceremony, after the Good Friday service.)
                In Roman Catholicism, the clergy traditionally begin the service prostrate in front of the altar. Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday and the communion distributed at the Celebration of the Lord's Passion is consecrated on Holy Thursday, hence the name Mass of the Pre-sanctified. In Anglican/Episcopal churches, there is no prayer of consecration on Good Friday, and Reserved Sacrament is distributed at all services on that day.
                Also in Roman Catholicism, images of saints are either kept or veiled until the Easter Vigil. Votive lights before these images are not lit. Crucifixes that are movable are hidden, while those that are not movable are veiled until the Easter Vigil.
                Roman Catholic faithful typically venerate the crucifix by kissing the feet of the corpus. Veneration of a simple wooden cross is common in Anglican/Episcopal worship, with the faithful touching and or kissing it.
                Colors seen throughout the chapel or on vestments: Vary No color, red, or black are used in different traditions. Where colored hangings are removed for this day, liturgical color applies to vestments only.
                The Roman Catholic priest wears red vestments, symbolic of the Blood of Jesus Christ. In Anglican/Episcopal services, black vestments are sometimes used.

Holy Saturday
                Holy Saturday is a commemoration of the day that Jesus lay in his tomb.
                In the Roman Catholic Church, daytime Masses are never offered. In Anglican/Episcopal worship, there is no prayer of consecration or distribution of Reserved Sacrament on Holy Saturday, but a simple service of scripture readings and prayers may be held.
                There are no colors seen or used throughout the chapel or on vestments.
                Known as Black Saturday in the Philippines.

Easter Vigil
                Held after nightfall of Holy Saturday, or before dawn on Easter Sunday, in anticipation of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Many of the details which follow are common to Anglican/Episcopal worship as well as Roman Catholic worship.
                The ceremony of darkness and light is held in silence at the beginning of the Mass.
                The paschal candle, representing Jesus's resurrection as the "return of light onto the world," is lit.
                The solemn procession to the altar with the Paschal candle is formed.
                Once everyone has processed in, the Exsultet is intoned.
                After the Exsultet, everyone is seated and listens to seven readings from the Old Testament and seven Psalms. At least three of these readings and associated psalms must be read, which must include the account of the first Passover from the Book of Exodus. Pastoral conditions are taken into account when deciding on the number of readings. These readings account salvation history, beginning with Creation. In Anglican/Episcopal worship, there are nine possible readings from the Old Testament, and a minimum of two must be read, which must include the account of Israel's deliverance at the Red Sea.
                In pre- and post-Vatican II Roman Catholic practice, during the Gloria at the Mass, the organ and church bells are used in the liturgy for the first time in two days.
                If the lights of the Church have been previously left off, they are turned on as the Gloria begins.
                The Great Alleluia is sung before the Gospel is read.
                The Paschal candle is used to bless the baptismal font to be used by the Elect.
                The celebrant uses the term "Alleluia" for the first time since the beginning of Lent.
                People desiring to full initiation in the Church who have completed their training are formally initiated as members of the faith the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist).
                In current Vatican II practice, the use of lighting to signify the emergence from sin and the resurrection of Jesus vary, from the use of candles held by parishioners as well as candelabras lit throughout the church.
                Statues of Jesus, which have been veiled during Passion (usually throughout Lent), are unveiled.
                Colors seen throughout the chapel or on vestments: White, often together with gold, with yellow and white flowers often in use in many parishes.

                The date of Easter varies from year to year, but is always on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25. It occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox on March 21, a date which is fixed in accordance with an ancient ecclesiastical computation, and which does not always correspond to the astronomical equinox.
                The Easter octave allows for no other feasts to be celebrated or commemorated during it (possible exception is the Greater Litanies if Easter falls later in the year). If Easter is so early that March 25 falls in Easter week, the feast of the Annunciation is postponed to the following week.
                The Ascension is the fortieth day of Easter; which is always a Thursday. Pentecost (or Whitsun) is the fiftieth day.
                Easter Masses are held throughout the day and are similar in content to the Easter Vigil Mass. In Roman Catholic tradition, baptisms are not performed, and the ritual of the Paschal candle is not performed (the candle is placed next to the ambo, or podium, throughout the Easter celebration). In Anglican/Episcopal tradition, Easter Day (and the Easter Vigil) are especially appropriate days for Holy Baptism.
                The Easter season extends from the Easter Vigil through Pentecost Sunday on the Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic and Protestant calendars, normally the fiftieth day after Easter. On the calendar used by traditional Roman Catholics, Eastertide lasts until the end of the Octave of Pentecost, at None of the following Ember Saturday.
The colors seen throughout the chapel or on vestments during the fifty-day Easter period are white or gold.

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