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The Triduum


The Triduum (Three Days) 

We begin on Thursday with washing of feet (service) and end at the close of Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

Holy Thursday,
by Paul Turner  Begins at 7:00 p.m.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday ends the season of Lent and begins the Triduum, the sacred three days when we commemorate the Passion and resurrection of Christ.  The church looks different:  The tabernacle is completely empty; its doors may be opened and the sanctuary lamp extinguished.  The altar may have moderate floral decoration.  At Mass, bells ring during the glory to God, but then they remain silent until the Easter Vigil.  Musical instruments should not play solos.  The washing of the feet may follow the homily.  Contributions for the poor are included in the procession of the gifts.  The Eucharistic prayer recalls that this is the night on which Jesus was handed over and on which he handed over his Body and Blood to us.  After communion the leftover consecrated bread is placed in a vessel on the altar and incensed.  The priest picks up the vessel with the humeral veil and processes through the church to a side altar or a separate chapel suitably decorated.  The Blessed Sacrament is incensed again and closed inside a tabernacle.  


    No other Mass is celebrated this day – not even in the morning – without permission of the bishop and only for serious reasons.  Holy Communion may be given to the sick, but no one else may share in communion outside of Mass.
    After Mass the altar is stripped, and the crosses in the church are removed or veiled.  The faithful may begin the paschal fast, which is obligatory on Good Friday but urged on Holy Saturday as well.  They are encouraged to pray before the Blessed Sacrament sometime before midnight, remembering how Jesus asked Peter,   “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?”  (Mt 26:40)
Ministry & Liturgy – used by permission.

Good Friday
by Paul Turner begins at Noon at St. Bridget’s and 3:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s 
The church solemnly observes Good Friday with a special liturgy called the Celebration of the Lord’s passion.  It should take place at 3 p.m., but another time may be chosen.  It is not a Mass, but the priest and deacon vest as if it were.  The altar should be bare – no cross, candles, or cloth should adorn it.  Musical instruments should be used sparingly, only to accompany singing.  No bells are rung.  The service begins as ministers enter the sanctuary and lay prostate, face to the floor.  Or they may kneel.  The highlight of the Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of the Passion according to St. John.  One or three persons may read or sing it; the assembly may take part.  All kneel for a time of silence when the narrative tells of the death of Jesus.


    The liturgy continues with solemn prayers for the church and the world.  Then a cross is unveiled or carried in procession.  All may adore the cross however they wish.  The priest may remove his chasuble and his shoes.  Music during this time may include the Stabat Mater.  Bread consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is then brought to the altar, and all may share communion.  Whatever remains goes to a tabernacle, preferably outside the church.


    As the service ends, the cross is placed on the altar between two or four candles.  When leaving the church, people should genuflect to the cross.


    Throughout the day the faithful should observe the laws of fast and abstinence.  They may confess their sins or receive the anointing of the sick, but no other sacraments may be celebrated.  Only the sick may receive communion apart from the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.  Ministry & Liturgy used by Permission.


Easter Vigil
begins at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s in Hammond and St. Bridget’s in River Falls.
The Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the year.  In the complete ranking of all Catholic Church celebrations, the Triduum occupies the top spot.  The Triduum, which begins with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, concludes on Easter, reaching its climax with the Easter Vigil.  If there is one Mass in which Catholics should make every effort to participate every year, it is the Easter Vigil.  If you attend church Easter Sunday morning, but miss the Easter Vigil, you have missed the most important celebration of the year.  


    The Easter Vigil celebrates the resurrection of Christ and the commitment of believers.  It has four parts.  It begins with a service of light.  The community gathers in darkness to hear that Christ is our light, shattering the darkness of sin.  The next part of the Vigil is the Liturgy of the Word.  We hear up to nine Scripture passages that tell the story of salvation, ending with the Gospel of the resurrection.


    The third part is the liturgy of baptism.  Some catechumens have already been listed among the elect, those chosen for baptism this year.   They now come forward to be plunged into the water of new birth. Anointed with Chrism, they celebrate confirmation, receiving the strength of God’s Spirit for the Christian life. Then the entire community renews its baptismal promises.  Together we pledge our faith in the resurrection and promise to follow Christ more closely.


    The Vigil culminates in the fourth part, the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The length of the celebration has sharpened our hunger for communion. Now the newly baptized will join us in the Eucharist for the very first time. At the Easter Vigil we recommit ourselves to our faith and rejoice with the newly baptized.

Easter Sunday Masses
at 7, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Bridget’s
and 8:00 and 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s.  (No Sunday Mass at Newman Center)