The Easter Triduum


Celebrations of Holy Week & The Triduum, 2019

Holy Week

April 12th




Individual Reconciliation

April 13th 


Individual Reconciliation


Passion Sunday Vigil Mass

Passion Sunday
April 14th




Mass (gather outside, by the hall)


April 16th




Liturgy of Reconciliation

PASCHAL TRIDUUM - ‘The Three Days’

Holy Thursday

April 18th


Mass of the Lord’s Supper

and watching until 10:00pm

Good Friday

April 19th


Ecumenical Way of the Cross

from St Francis Xavier Church


Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion

Holy Saturday

12 noon

Blessing of Easter Food

Easter Vigil

April 20th



The Vigil (gather outside - at the fire);

First Celebration of Easter. All welcome

to continue the celebrations in the hall


Easter Sunday

April 21st





The Catholic Community of St Francis Xavier wishes you
   a happy and blessed Holy Week, Triduum, and Eastertide

The Triduum – Three in One, One in Three                                                                                                

The Church tells us that our celebration of the Triduum (“three days”) is the “culmination of the entire liturgical year.” We say that the Triduum is not so much three celebrations (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) but one continuous celebration with three parts to it. The unitive nature of the three liturgies is underlined by the omission of a concluding rite on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. These two liturgies are “left hanging,” so to speak, incomplete without that which follows, as if the liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday are saying to us: “We are not done yet. To be continued.”

The Meaning            
What are we celebrating in this continuous “three in one and one in three” liturgy? We are celebrating the Passover or Passion of Jesus Christ. By dying and rising, God’s Son broke the bonds of death and was restored to life. The connection and meaning for us is that if we unite our lives to Christ, he will take us through our pain and darkness and lead us into the fullness of God’s light.         
Nothing in our Church year is more important than our celebration of the Triduum. Perhaps one reason that the Church has not made these days holy days of obligation is that by doing so, she would be stating the obvious. It would be like making it obligatory for us to celebrate an important anniversary. No one should have to
tell us to come to church on these days. If we are in touch with our Catholic Christian tradition we would automatically plan to be there. Now for a brief look at each of the three moments of this one continuous celebration.

Holy Thursday
The Triduum begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This Mass preserves several traditions that were once common to every Eucharist - and in a sense are ideal for every celebration - but now seem special and different. The Mass begins with the tabernacle entirely empty for we receive Holy Communion this evening from the bread and wine consecrated at this Mass, not from a previous Mass; the entire community is gathered at this one Eucharist with all the priests, ministers and parishioners celebrating together.
The opening prayer reminds us that “we are gathered here to share in the supper which your only Son left to his church to reveal his love.” The first reading (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14) gives the background and details for the Passover meal. The Hebrew people in Egypt are saved by the blood of the lamb which causes the wrath of God to “pass over” the houses marked with its blood. The second reading (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) contains the earliest written account of the Lord’s Supper. “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’”
The Gospel proclaimed at this Mass of the Lord’s Supper is not one of the accounts of the “institution of the Eucharist” (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20). Instead the Church presents to us John 13:1-15: Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. And not only do we
hear about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, but we see and experience it. On Holy Thursday the presider, following the example of Christ, will take off his outer vestment and wash the feet of several members of the assembly who in turn will move to various parts of the church and wash the feet of others.
This simple ritual reminds us that we as followers of Christ are called to be people of the towel and water - people ready to be humble servants of those in need.
After Holy Communion we will have what is called the Transfer of the Eucharist to a chapel of repose. (Since there is no Mass on Good Friday consecrated hosts are reserved). Then the altar is stripped. Adoration continues in the chapel of repose until late into the evening.

Good Friday - Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Good Friday is the most sober day of the entire Church year. Sober is perhaps the key word - the liturgy is very restrained and straightforward. The altar is bare, without cloths, candles or cross. There is no Mass on this day; “according to the Church’s ancient tradition, the sacraments are not celebrated today or tomorrow” (Roman Missal). It is a day of fasting. There are no greetings, genuflections, opening songs, processions: We simply come and prostrate ourselves in humble submission before the word and the glorious cross of Christ.
The Liturgy consists of three parts: The Liturgy of the Word, The Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. In the Veneration of the Cross, a large cross is brought forward, unveiled and presented to us. We come forward to kiss or touch this instrument of torture. It is as if we were asked to kiss a guillotine or an electric chair.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus called the Easter Vigil the “solemnity of solemnities.” St. Augustine called it the “Mother of Vigils.” In the early church the Vigil started after sunset and continued all night until sunrise. So, we can say our celebration of the Easter Vigil is a ‘mini-celebration.’ The Vigil is, of course, the most solemn and important celebration of the entire Liturgical year - more important than Midnight Mass at Christmas. The Vigil celebrates the victory of Jesus over the darkness of Good Friday, his victory over sin and death. The Easter Vigil has four main parts:
The Service of Light
The Easter Vigil begins outdoors with the lighting and blessing of the Easter Fire. All participants are encouraged to gather outside for this beautiful ritual. Our new Paschal Candle is then lit from the Easter fire. We process into a dark church (symbolizing the world without Christ) with the Paschal Candle chanting “Lumen Christi” (Light of Christ). The Service of Light concludes with the beautiful chanting of the Exsultet which celebrates Christ’s victory over death.
Liturgy of the Word
During the Liturgy we listen to the stories of creation and redemption. St. Augustine in an Easter Vigil Sermon exhorts us: “Listen to God speak to us in the readings. Let us speak to [God] in our prayers. If we hear [God’s] words obediently, [God] to whom we pray will dwell in us.”
Celebration of Baptism and Confirmation
This part of the Vigil is very beautiful and rich with sacred ritual. The Elect (the unbaptized) are called forth and presented to the community. They kneel (or process around the church) as the community chants the Litany of the Saints invoking their intercession for these brothers and sisters who are about to enter the baptismal waters. The waters of our baptismal font are solemnly blessed. Then follows the Profession of Faith and baptism. While they change into their white robes we the already baptized are sprinkled with the newly blessed holy water as we renew our own baptismal promises. The neophytes (the newly baptized) will be confirmed.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Easter Vigil reaches its culminating point in the celebration of the Eucharist. Our Church tells us that tonight’s Eucharist is “the Easter Sacrament paramount. It is the consummation of Christian initiation and a foretaste of the everlasting Easter.” This is a big moment for the newly-received who have been looking forward to it for a long time.

I urge you with all my heart to make a special effort to participate in our celebration of the Triduum, the high point of our Church’s year. I encourage parents to introduce your children to these beautiful celebrations. Sit up front so that your children can see everything that is going on and become engaged in it.

Adapted from text at


Office @SFX,
Mar 20, 2019, 6:09 PM