Meatless Friday: The Triduum

The Triduum is the 3 days preceding Easter:  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the Last Supper; the beginning of the Eucharist.  Washing of feet is also done:  “So when he had washed their feet / ...he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? / ... I have given you a model to follow, / so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn 13:12, 15)    Mass is celebrated in the evening because Passover begins at sundown.  No masses will be celebrated until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. This was very emotional last night:  The altar was stripped, and the tabernacle was opened.  Seeing that empty tabernacle was heart wrenching.

Good Friday:  The day when Jesus died.  The day when the world realized that they crucified the Son of God.  Upon walking into the church, one sees a bare altar, with the tabernacle that holds the monstrance (which holds a suspended host) open, but empty.
 There is no Mass on this day; only a service.  The difference is that the host is not consecrated at this service; the hosts used were consecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass.  (Consecration occurs during the part of the Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer:  when the "wafer" and wine becomes the Body & Blood of Jesus Christ.)  The service consists of a reading from the Bible, Prayers of Intercession, Veneration of the Cross, and Communion.  Veneration of the Cross is a favorite of mine:  We go to the altar and kiss the feet of Jesus on the crucifix.  Before venerating the cross, the priest says:  "Behold, the wood of the Cross."

On Holy Saturday there is an Easter Vigil in which Catechumens  are received into the Church.  These new members have gone through RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), have studied the Catholic Faith, and are ready to become full-fledged Catholics.  I've never been to that Mass, but I've heard it's incredibly long. And beautiful.  The Mass begins in darkness; the Easter/Paschal Candle is blessed and lit.
After the Catechumens are baptized into the Catholic Faith, the veils come off of the statues on the altar, bells ring, and the "Gloria" and "Alleluias"  return.  It's officially Easter!

Resurrection Cookies are a really neat way to take part in the Easter Story with kids.  You can find the "recipe" here.


  1. We are going to Easter vigil this year...I'm looking forward to it. God bless you, Mary, have a blessed Easter!

  2. Mary, did you notice that the little stands in the box are the Alpha and Omega?

    Thank you for your descriptions you've shared this season. Even if I don't ascribe to the many traditions of the Catholic faith, I appreciate knowing more about the stories behind them.

    Our church (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) has a motto:

    In the essentials, unity
    In the non-essentials, liberty
    In all things, charity

    And the essentials are embodied in the Westminster Confession.

    The motto makes things very easy to remember because the first question I ask myself is, "is this essential?" If it isn't, then I examine myself for whether I'm being loving ...

    Happy Resurrection Sunday!

  3. Even though I'm not Catholic, it's been interesting to read about the many traditions. Thank you for sharing them with us. Easter blessings to you!

  4. I think we enjoy these traditions more as adults because of wisdom. With age comes humility and with humility, wisdom.

  5. Just catching up on some blog reading!
    We went to the Easter Vigil two years ago. It was over two hours long! I said never again and what do you know, last year nephew was baptized and made his first communion at the Easter Vigil! So of course we went!
    This year went to the 9:30 mass and got there 25 minutes early so we could get a seat... well everyone else must have had the same idea! We had to sit in our commons area and watch mass on a TV!
    Hope you had a Happy Easter!


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