It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
No, I’m not going crazy. While there may be snow on the ground and a chill in the air, I’m quite aware that it is not Christmas and therefore NOT what most people (including the legendary Perry Como) would consider to be the most wonderful time of the year. But to me, it is. At a recent Campus Commission on Diversity and Multiculturalism meeting, we were each asked to introduce ourselves and share what our favorite holiday is. I told everyone that, as Catholic Campus Minister, I really wanted to break the stereotype and say I loved Fourth of July (which I do, having celebrated it in Juneau, Alaska, which really celebrates that holiday RIGHT), but that my absolute favorite holiday is Easter. It’s true! I’m the one jumping up and down in the back of the church crying as the lights come on and the veils are ripped off the statues during the Gospel reading. Easter is the day we celebrate Death becoming irrelevant because Christ conquered it on behalf of humanity. HOW CAN THAT NOT BE THE BEST DAY EVER?!?!?!??
Part of the reason I love Easter so much is because of Triduum. “Tridu-who?” you might say. Triduum–“TRID-ooo-um”. It’s the singular celebration in many parts that encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Saturday night (three days, “TRIduum”, get it?). It’s the period of time between the Last Supper and Christ’s resurrection, a time containing His betrayal, arrest, beating, trial, crucifixion, and entrance into the tomb. No weddings are allowed to be held, the altar is stripped bare, there’s no Mass as we’re used to it, the bells of the church stay silent…in short, it’s no wonder that in older days, Triduum was referred to as “the still days”.
Yet it’s stillness and despair that make this period of Triduum so beautiful. Our churches are bare and silent so that we remember what Christ did for us. We experience stillness and darkness to get some small taste of what it would have been like for the disciples those 2000 years ago. But we do it all with the knowledge that Easter is coming, that there’s a ham in the fridge and eggs to be colored and hidden, chocolate bunnies to be eaten and things we gave up for Lent ready to be enjoyed. Some say that Mass isn’t held during this period, but I prefer to think of it as Mass continuing throughout these three days, that we’re in a constant state of attention to God, waiting for the miracle that we know Easter will bring.
I pray that Triduum is a blessed time for all of the young adults of Keene this year. That our rituals make the Pascal mystery real for them. That they realize the hugeness of what we’re celebrating. And that they do, in fact, celebrate when the lights come on and the veils are torn down on Saturday night.
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