Easter Triduum I
I begin to write newsletter articles this time of year about Holy Week. In the past I have always begun at the beginning. This year I want to say something first about the Easter Triduum, the three days at the heart of the year. I write primarily with the local parish community in mind. I want to try to tell you something of what I understand our Christian (and Catholic!) tradition to be.
The central Christian belief is that Jesus was crucified and he rose from the dead. In the liturgical tradition of the Church this is not a past or an abstract reality. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is remembered and made present in the worship of the Easter Triduum. This mystery is the greatest and most sacred mystery we share. Our worship proclaims the belief of the Church that this past historical reality is an eternal and present reality. Jesus Christ continues to die and rise in our midst in the person of his chosen ones.
"Triduum" is the name that has come down to us from the Latin tradition. The word means "three days." It refers to the three days that begin at sunset on the Thursday before the first Sunday in the spring after the moon is full and after the night and day have become equal in length (the Spring equinox). Christians still calculate these three days using the reckoning of the Lord's chosen, the Jewish people. The first day begins at sunset on Thursday night, the second day begins on Friday at sunset, the third day begins on Saturday at sunset. These are the "Three Days," the "Triduum."
We call it the "Easter" Triduum in English because in our language - almost alone of Christian languages - the common name for this feast doesn't refer linguistically to Passover, "Pesach" or "Pascha." But the reference is the same. Easter is the Christian celebration of the Passover of the Lord Jesus from death to life.
The Easter Triduum begins Thursday night and ends at sunset on Sunday night. The Church marks the time with greater and lesser liturgies. The greater liturgies are these:
On Thursday night The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
On Friday The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
On Saturday night The Great Vigil of Easter
On Sunday Solemn Paschal Vespers
Masses on Easter Sunday morning are appointed and presumed but no special ceremonies other than the singing of the sequence, Christians to the Paschal victim, and an optional form for a solemn blessing of the people at the end. Many Christians do attend the Vigil and Mass on Easter morning, but the greater obligation in the liturgical tradition on those who attend the Vigil is to return for Solemn Paschal Vespers on the evening of Easter Day, not Easter morning Mass. These are the ancient traditions of Catholic Christianity. And every year since I have been an active Episcopalian they make more sense, mean more, and call me to a greater conversion of life.
You and I are members of a parish community that has committed itself to the full traditional liturgical life of the Catholic Church. This is not a static tradition. It grows and evolves over time. Fifty years ago at Saint Mary's and in other Anglo-catholic parishes, the Easter Vigil was celebrated on Saturday morning and the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper was celebrated on Thursday morning, before the Three Days had actually begun - hard to believe but true. I for one am thankful for scholarship that has led the Church more deeply into the mystery of our faith and of these days.
There are lesser liturgies on the Three Days as well. Morning Prayer is offered each day and there is an optional rite for the final preparation of catechumens on Saturday morning. Evening Prayer is no longer said publicly on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and is said privately only by those who cannot participate in the great liturgies of these days. Participation in the liturgies on these days is considered to be more than complete; nothing needs to be added. At Saint Mary's we still hear confessions after the Good Friday Liturgy (really should be heard before Maundy Thursday) and we also offer the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening.
If you don't yet have a sense of the essential and compelling unity of the great liturgies of the Easter Triduum I want to tell you that I have glimpsed it and I desire to be transformed and renewed by it. I invite you to join me as this community continues to grow in the mystery of the Lord's Passover.
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Mabel who is hospitalized and for James, Dennis, Carol, Olga, Helen, Jack, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Yamily, Dawn, Bryn, Mary and Ronald . . .
GRANT THEM PEACE . Arpil 4:1987 Clara D. Lewis; 1992 Thelma Bradford Ingersoll; April 5: 1964 Harold Bosworth Libbey; April 8:1964 The Rev. Greig Tabor; 1996 The Rev. Donald L. Garfield.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:1-14, John 9:1-38 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin; Preacher: Richard Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector . . . On Saturday, April 1, Father Shin will hear confessions . . On Saturday, April 8, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember the Lenten Quiet Day, Saturday, April 1, from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM with Father Douglas Brown, O.H.C. . . . Mabel Lewis continues in rehabilitation at Long Island College Hospital. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Father Shin returned on Friday from a course at the College of Preachers on The Magic of Ritual: An Exploration of the Mosaic of Ritual, Sacrament and Liturgy. The leader was the Reverend Louis Weil, professor at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific . . . Many thanks to Canon Garrison for bringing Holy Communion to Mabel Lewis last week . . . The next session of the Catechists Formation Course for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will be on Saturday, April 8 . . . Attendance on Annunciation: 211, Last Sunday: 139.
THIS IS LENT . . . One or two people noticed that the gospel lesson last Sunday, John's account of the Woman at the Well, was on the long side. I remind you that the lessons will only get longer as we approach Easter. This coming Sunday will be the account of Jesus and the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-38) and on the Fifth Sunday in Lent the gospel lesson will be the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). (Isn't it great that Fathers Shin and Breidenthal chant so well!) Lent is not really about our individual acts of personal discipline and self-denial. Lent is entering into the gospel of the Lord. S.G.
RECTOR'S ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT . . . The Board of Trustees included in the budget for 2000 a half-time administrative assistant to help me with my work. I am delighted and honored to tell you that John Beddingfield has agreed to take this position. John has been at Saint Mary's for a while, but he formally joined the parish at the beginning of the year after resigning from ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church. His full-time position is in technical services at Saint Mark's Library at the General Theological Seminary. Again, I am delighted to welcome him to the parish staff. S.G.
VARIOUS LITURGICAL THINGS . . . We are going to begin listing the starting time of the regular evening Mass as 6:20 PM instead of 6:15 PM. The reason for this is that this Mass usually does begin at 6:20 PM and never earlier! We normally pray the psalms using the thirty-day cycle as laid out in the Prayer Book psalter. In addition, we use the option of having two lessons at Evening Prayer. This means that the Office always takes longer than the fifteen minutes indicated in the calendars. It will probably take a few months for all of our various listings in various places to be consistent . . . "Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ" replaces the word "Alleluia" in the acclamation before the gospel at weekday Masses during Lent. The reader says this; the congregation repeats it. The reader reads the verse; then all repeat the refrain. "Alleluia" of course means "praise to the Lord." In the tradition it is all right to use other words to say this, but the great Christian ululation (don't you love this word?) is omitted on Sundays and weekdays in and of Lent.
Stations & Benediction
Fridays in Lent
with the Church of the Transfiguration.
This Friday, April 7, at Saint Mary's, 7:00 PM.
This week at Saint Mary’s
Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday, April 2
10:00 AM The Rector's Class in Saint Benedict's Study
10:00 AM Sunday Morning Bible Study in Father Shin's Office
1:00 PM Journey in Faith in Saint Benedict's Study
7:00 PM Paschal Mystery: Approaches New and Old in Saint Benedict's Study
7:00 PM Stations of the Cross and the Eucharistic Benediction
The Calendar for the Fourth Week of Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Special Lenten Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.