Venice | As the Lenten Season comes to a close, now more than ever we must prepare for the Easter Triduum which bespeaks of the suffering, death and Resurrection, renders visibly that God’s love has no bounds.
While it is not possible to physically attend Mass or enter church during this holiest of weeks, it is essential to stay truly connected to your Faith at this critical time. Parish priests, as well as Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will be live streaming the Holy Week celebrations (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter) with prayer intentions for those who are not present and those who are suffering during this time of the global pandemic.
“During this time of fear and uncertainty, the faithful must be assured that the Church continues to celebrate Lent and in turn Holy Week,” Bishop Dewane explained. “While we would all wish for the church buildings in the Diocese, and throughout the world, to be open and full, the Universal Church remains, and the importance of the Paschal Triduum is not diminished. In fact, they are enhanced as the celebration of these important moments in the live, death and Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ are what unite us, bringing light in the face of darkness.”
Pope Francis describes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday as enabling us to enter increasingly in the great mystery of our Faith: the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Mystery we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love that knows no obstacles. Jesus’ Passion lasts until the end of the world, because it is a story of sharing with the sufferings of the whole of humanity and a permanent presence in the events of the personal life of each one of us.”
Pope Francis also noted how the Triduum represents God’s service, love, and silence, and that we, as His disciples, are called to live out these characteristics in our lives.
In response to the special circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holy See, through the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and the Apostolic Penitentiary, has provided pastoral directives regarding Holy Week. By having all priests follow the directives during the time, the visible communion of the Church is manifest and is a source of hope and comfort to the Catholic Faithful.
Triduum means “three days.” The Paschal Triduum is the three-day season counted sunset to sunset from Holy Thursday night to Easter Sunday evening, and is the conclusion of Lent. During these three days, we keep one festival, our Easter. These feasts are the heart of the entire liturgical year, not one feast among others.
Holy Thursday is April 9 and celebrated as an evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. A component often present on Holy Thursday is the washing of the feet. While always optional, this year it will be omitted. After hearing John’s Gospel, when the foot washing would normally take place, the faithful are asked to reflect on Jesus’ call for service.
Following the Holy Thursday liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament is normally removed from the Church to a place of repose to remain there until the Easter Vigil. However, this year the Blessed Sacrament will be returned to the Tabernacle.
The Church keeps the Paschal fast from Good Friday through the Easter Vigil. Unlike the penitential fasting of Lent (now over), it is the fasting of joyful anticipation and anxious yearning for the Easter sacraments.
Good Friday is April 10, and includes the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. This day is a good time to reflect on the Stations of the Cross (a video of the Stations is available on the Diocesan website — www.dioceseofvenice.org).
The Good Friday Liturgy, which is never a Mass, but is comprised of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Veneration of the Cross and reception of Eucharist. Veneration of the Cross is the climax of our response to the Passion. The faithful are called to behold Christ in his great act of love and we respond with loving veneration. For Christians, veneration – whether in person or remotely – means loving service to the cross and taking up one’s cross and following Christ crucified.
The Great Easter Vigil, the night before Easter Sunday, is filled with ancient traditions of the Church. However, there is no lighting of fire this year. The Paschal Candle is lit with the proclamation that Christ is our Light. During the liturgy, the faithful hear the story of our salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings. During this celebration, a Renewal of Baptismal Promises is made.
The Mass is a celebration of the Risen Christ who is really and substantially present in the celebration of the Eucharist. This Great Vigil opens the Easter Season which will continue for 50 days and finds its conclusion in the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 31, 2020.
The conclusion of the Easter Triduum and the celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day, in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”