It’s not an ordinary English word, Triduum, that is. It is a word derived from Latin for “three days.” The word does not appear in our current Prayer Book. But what it represents is in it. The Easter Triduum is nothing less than the principal service of worship of the entire year. This is the term most Christians now use for this service. It really is all in the Prayer Book, even if the name is not.
In The Book of Common Prayer the Easter Triduum masquerades as three services done over the course of three days. With respect, it’s not three; it’s one. It begins on Maundy Thursday. It continues on Good Friday. The assembly will not hear a dismissal until the end of the Great Vigil of Easter. I cannot imagine our common life as a community of Christians in the Episcopal Church without the Easter Triduum.
Especially if you have never been here for the Easter Triduum, I want to remind you, respectfully, that the Church’s liturgical tradition really doesn’t care too much about our private devotions or our personal opinions. We follow the traditions, texts and ceremonies in the most complete and faithful way we are able to do them and each of us is invited to surrender ourselves to their genius, logic and spirit. Every year there are opportunities in the liturgy for the Spirit to speak to us in a new way and to bind us together more closely in Christ.
Sometimes I say I like one part or day of the Triduum better than others, but it’s really not true. I am deeply moved by elements from each part and each movement of the Three Days. After all the purple of Lent, the white vestments themselves we will see on Maundy Thursday moves something inside of me and speaks of the eternity in which we share when we gather as the Body of Christ. On Good Friday the church is so empty of all the things I love to see in churches. On Easter Eve the church is so full of everything, especially the echoing of the word, “Alleluia.”
To those who are new, just give yourself to the liturgy. Don’t think about it. Don’t evaluate. Just try to enjoy it on its own terms. Let the Spirit lead you. Unless it’s pouring down rain, we march outside on Palm Sunday during the 11:00 AM Mass; come prepared. We wash each others’ feet on Maundy Thursday – as Jesus told us to do. Wear hosiery and shoes appropriate to the demands of the assembly’s liturgy. At the Easter Vigil we ring bells; bring some. You won’t regret the inconvenience – and something tells me it’s probably fun to have them along on a subway or bus.
Need I add that the music during the week will be absolutely the best. Throughout the week the music will be the servant of the assembly and the liturgy. The appointed liturgical music is so rich that nothing extra is needful. There will be glory when there should be glory; there will be silence when there should be silence. I’ve heard them practicing - Pärt, Widor and all the rest. I can hardly wait!
The Spirit is alive today in the Church and among us to bind us as Christ’s Body, to unite us to Christ. You and I are privileged to be together in a place where the Easter Triduum is known and loved. It really is the center of our year and of our lives at Saint Mary’s. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Sarah, Linda, Guiseppina, Doreen, Mabel, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Maureen, Marie, Rick, Edgar, John, Joanne, Barbara, Jeffrey, priest, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned and David and for the repose of the soul of Virgin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 24: 1952 Ida Mary Steifel; March 26: 1966 Frances Duckworth Young; March 29: 1964 Robert Edward Cerra; 1997 Brice Linville; March 30: 1968 Mabel Helen Arends.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Larry Green’s mother, Virgin M. Green, died on Sunday, March 17, in Virginia. Please pray for Virgin, for Larry and for all who mourn . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 23, by Father Smith . . . Attendance last Sunday 258.
Notes for Holy Week and the Triduum
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday . . . Morning Prayer will be sung today, instead of said, at 8:30 AM . . . At 9:00 AM there will be Blessing of Palms & Sung Mass. There is no 10:00 AM Mass today as there is not time to begin a Mass at 10:00 AM on Palm Sunday and have the church ready to go for the principal liturgy of the day at 11:00 AM. During the Procession through Times Square the members of the assembly distribute palms to those who ask for them.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week . . . Morning Prayer will be at 7:40 AM on these days, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. In addition to the usual Masses at 12:15 PM and at 6:20 PM, Mass will be said at 8:00 AM. On Wednesday Evening Prayer and the 6:20 PM Mass will be offered in Saint Joseph’s Chapel.
Wednesday in Holy Week . . . Saint Mary’s sings the Office of Tenebrae - a particular form of monastic Morning Prayer adapted from the pre-Vatican II liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church – now included in The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church – at 7:00 PM. It is beloved by many. The service includes the choral singing of Allegri’s Miserere.
Maundy Thursday . . . Lent ends at sunset this evening as the Easter Triduum begins. Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 AM. There is no Mass during the day. Evening Prayer is said only by those who cannot attend the principal liturgy of the day, The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which is celebrated at 6:00 PM. The entire offering from this Mass is given away for work with the poor. All are invited to participate in the washing of feet. Bread and wine are consecrated at this Mass for Communion tonight and at the Good Friday Liturgy. At the end of the Mass the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the Mercy Chapel. A Watch is kept through the night. (Yes, a guard is on duty.) The Paschal Fast begins.
Good Friday . . . Morning Prayer is offered in the Church at 8:30 AM. On Good Friday the Paschal Fast continues with the addition of abstinence from flesh meats. Evening Prayer is said only by those who cannot be present for the liturgy of the day. The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord is held twice today, 12:30 PM and 6:00 PM. The same service is held in the evening as at 12:30 PM. Church custom permits the duplication as so many of the faithful are no longer excused from work on this day in our secular society. At Saint Mary’s, confessions are heard by the parish clergy following both services.
Easter Eve . . . Morning Prayer is said in the Church at 8:30 AM. Food may be taken today but feasting does not begin until the conclusion of The Great Vigil of Easter. During the day preparations for the Great Vigil of Easter begin. The Vigil is celebrated beginning at 7:00 PM. Please bring a hand bell. Our Easter Reception follows the liturgy in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
Easter Day . . . A full schedule of services is offered. Those who receive Holy Communion at the Great Vigil may again receive Easter Communion at one Mass today. The Triduum concludes with Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Holy Week
The Easter Triduum
Thursday Maundy Thursday
Friday Good Friday
Saturday Easter Eve
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.