On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples said to Jesus, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover? He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him the Teacher says, "In your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples. Make the preparations for us there" The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
(Matthew 26: 17-19 and Mark 14:12-16)
Around the world, there are people breathing a sigh of relief and relaxation as the Triduum celebrations come to a close. Like the disciples before the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples, these folks have been preparing for you to celebrate the Passover Triduum of the Christian faith.
There are so many who help to prepare the liturgies we celebrate. Some of them are obvious to everyone because they are in the sanctuary, in the choir, welcoming you at the door, proclaiming the word, serving at the altar; sharing the Sacrament with you. Others work quietly, ahead of time, preparing the liturgy, in and outside the sacristy, in and outside the sanctuary; cleaning the worship space; scheduling liturgical ministers; preparing worship aids; arranging flowers and the environment for worship; counting palm branches and tapers; ironing, polishing, vacuuming, sweeping and dusting; hanging banners; cleaning out pews as you leave for the people coming in for the next liturgy; and in general, worrying about things you'd never dream need to be worried about -- but that you'd notice right away if someone hadn't worried about them!
Catechumenate teams meet weekly or even more often to prepare the elect and candidates for the Easter sacraments; Spiritual Life Commissions prepare Lenten programs to enhance spiritual preparation for Easter; Christian Service Commissions plan opportunities for Lenten sacrificial giving in preparation for Easter; Youth Ministers and Faith Formation teams work Lenten and Easter themes into their programs in preparation for the Easter liturgies; Liturgical Commissions meet months ahead of time to prepare for the Triduum; music directors, musicians, choirs and cantors spend hours upon hours rehearsing; good lectors spend hours preparing to proclaim the word; presiders devote themselves to becoming familiar with the ritual of these days so that they might lead the assembly and other ministers in graceful rites; preachers spend hours preparing homilies; and pastoral associates and parish administrators assist in a host of ways, not the least of which include answering phone calls, replying to emails, making lists, going to the printer, running copies, answering questions and making sure that the little things that can easily fall through the cracks - don't!
(And a great and hearty thank-you to visiting priests who came to rescue the pastor from the burden of the whole Sunday schedule on the morning following the Vigil and all of Holy Week!)
When things go well, it's often the pastor who gets the kind words and compliments but in hundreds of ways, the thanks should go to scores of others who work so hard to prepare and provide the time, the place, the word, the song and the stuff of sacraments and rites for these holy days.
I know these folks in my own community and I'm ever grateful for their faithful devotion to the prayer and worship we offer as a parish. Without them: there would be no Triduum at all!
You know these folks in your parish (and if you don't, find out who they are!) Seek them out, speak to them after Mass, call them, email them and let them know that you appreciate all they've done -- because through their work, the Lord saves his people!
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