Thursday, March 27, 2008
(Second in a series, see Triduum Reflections I)
The Triduum opens with Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. Two nights later, the Vigil liturgy begins with the presider calling the people to prayer around the new fire, including the proclamation: This is the passover of the Lord!
Some years back I recall centering my preaching at all three Triduum liturgies around the Passover nature of our Paschal celebration. If I recall correctly, it was a year when the Jewish Passover coincided with our Triduum.
A major problem in the celebrating the Triduum is that Catholic people are largely uninstructed in its relationship to Passover in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Apart from a foundational understanding of Passover, our Easter celebration floats disconnected from generations of faith which deeply inform and structure our Paschal rites. It is not an exaggeration to say that those who do not understand Passover do not fully understand Easter.
I've never been a fan of Christians celebrating Seder suppers - especially in close proximity to the Triduum. The Seder is not our ritual and even para-Seder celebrations seem to me to miss the mark and run the risk of making a catechetical less of Jewish prayer and ritual. (Of course, to be invited to a Jewish family's Seder is another and wonderful thing altogether.)
One of the reasons I so love the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I is its conscious articulation of Passover in the context of the Lord's Supper. Without an understanding of Passover we have a lesser understanding of Eucharist, of the Crucifixion, of a number of the lections at the Easter Vigil and of the initiation sacraments celebrated in the Christian Pasch.
Beginning on Holy Thursday night and continuing through the Easter seasons, I am saying, in the Communion Rite, as I show the sacred elements to the assembly, "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his Supper." It's a small measure but one I hope that will make an impression.
If you or your parish have found ways to help the assembly grasp more deeply the "Passover connection," please share them in the combox.
Posted by Concord Pastor at 12:01 AM