13 April 2006

The Triduum Begins

Holy Thursday is the feast of the Last Supper - The Institution of the Eucharist.
It is also the first part of the Easter Triduum, the three Church ceremonies that are central to our celebration of Easter.
Tomorrow is Good Friday and the last of the Triduum is the Saturday Evening Easter Vigil Mass.
The Triduum is a powerful means of transmitting the faith, impacting on all our senses - sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. The best part is that this has been going on for almost 2,000 years and we are continuing a tradition begun by the Apostles.

Our preparation began on Ash Wednesday, followed by the period of Lent with fasting and additional positive practices and prayers.
On Holy Thursday the first reading at Mass is from Exodus when Moses instructs the Israelites for the first Passover and the Gospel is from the Last Supper and Jesus' washing of the Apostles' feet. Then if there are enough men attending, the priest washes the feet of twelve men, reminding us of the Last Supper.
Often the communion is given under both kinds, with the host dipped into the chalice and given with the words, "The Body and Blood of Christ".
At the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the tabernacle in the main part of the church to an Altar of Repose. Many churches then have a prayer vigil in the area containing the Altar of Repose, remembering the time in the Garden of Gethsemene.
After the Mass is over, the priests return in basic white robes and strip the altar, as well as remove other decorations. The red light which is ALWAYS on reminding us of the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle is also put out.
So by the time we completed Mass tonight the altar and surrounding area was incredibly barren. The tabernacle is open and empty. The altar is bare. The light is out. The statues are covered in purple cloth. Jesus has been taken away.
Tomorrow we have Good Friday with its Passion Play and 3:00pm service.

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