Triduum Reflections II

(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.


  1. I learned about it when my daughter made her first communion.

  2. "The Passover Connection" has always fascinated me. For me it seems to be a kind of poetic evidence that Salvation is not just something that happened, it was planned. Thinking about what it means that Jesus has saved us from our sins and given us new life is in some ways easier to understand when compared to the Jews being freed from death and slavery in Egypt and being given new life in the promised land. I may have some of these metaphors mixed up but since doing more Hebrew testament reading my appreciation of Easter has deepened. Can you recommend any books that speak to this subject.
    Thank you as always for your thoughts and prayers. Peace

  3. I find that there are still many people who cling to the notion that Father prays this prayer so that we can get communion. Some still don't understand it as their prayer as well as the priest presider's. Jesus commanded us to "remember". In the EP we do "remember". We take, we bless, we break and we share, just as they did in the OT stories and just as Jesus did. I think that in order to have the assembly grasp the passover connection, it's important that they understand the elements of the prayer itself. A suggestion is to discuss and examine each element of the EP from the dialogue to the final doxology. Anyone else think that could be helpful? Maybe something for next Lent?

  4. A thought for other teachers out there who work in religious contexts...on several occasions now (including every day during Holy Week), I've used ConcordPastor's posts as an opening prayer and/or meditation for my class (I teach high school religion). I'm fortunate to have a projector in my room, so I'll put the image up on the board and read the meditation. It's a nice change of pace from the standard opening prayer I use, and I sense the visual learners in my class get something out of it as well. Thanks, ConcordPastor, for all of your prayerful thoughts and posts! (and images!)


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