Nestled within Holy Week is the Triduum, the three holiest days of the year. They are neither part of Lent nor part of Easter. I love the Triduum more than I love Christmas and Easter combined. Is that crazy?
It is rooted in the traditions I had as a child. We would always attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The pomp and circumstance associated with this Mass has always fascinated me, especially the use of Latin. I pray that our churches never relinquish this practice. I love the whole idea of washing the feet. I always wished I could be one of the chosen to do the washing. How cool is that! To do something truly in the image of Jesus for others! I never miss the opportunity to have my feet washed, as I strive to be the servant leader that Jesus wants me to be.
With Holy Thursday Mass being later into the evening, it made coming home from church foreign to the usual Sunday morning ritual. I remember how odd it felt coming home from church at night and wondering, “What do I do now?” Nothing seemed quite right. I imagine that’s how the apostles felt upon the arrest of Jesus at the garden – nothing felt quite right.
Good Friday is deeply steeped in memories. My younger brother and I ALWAYS had to watch “Jesus of Nazareth”. I credit my knowledge of the gospels to this annual viewing. It is in watching this mini-series, year in and year out, that helped me to really know Jesus and appreciate what He did for me, for us. My parents kept Good Friday sacred. We truly fasted and it was tradition for our family to go to 3:00 services on Good Friday, followed by a good dose of reconciliation. I ALWAYS cry if “Were You There” is sung. Show Stopper. I have experienced death enough in my life that Jesus’s dying is real. I identify with it. I don’t apologize for it.
Admittedly, we rarely went to the Easter Vigil. Therefore, I never fully appreciated it until my sister-in-law was baptized 18 years ago during the Easter Vigil. What a rich ceremony! It is an evening to learn the history of our faith. It is beautiful!
As an adult, there remains this excitement, as I try to maintain the traditions that helped me fall in love with Jesus for my own family. My own life experiences, especially as a mother, and as I get older, help me to identify more and more with the passion of our Lord and the suffering endured by His mother. By intentionally allowing myself to visualize and be in the story, in real time, as I often did with my students, I “get it” more and more. Our faith is a gift, meant to be reopened time and time again.
Allow the Triduum to work inside you, to make you fall in love with Jesus for the first time or the fifty first time.
Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.