As the Lenten Season draws to a close, now more than ever we must prepare for the Easter Triduum which bespeaks the suffering, death and Resurrection, rendering visibly that God’s love has no bounds.
Through the blessings of the Lord, it is possible to physically attend Mass during this holiest of weeks as compared to 2020 when Parish services were suspended. For those who still have concerns about coming to Mass, each of the major celebrations will be livestreamed from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice (also check your local Parish livestreaming availability).
Either way, it is essential to stay truly connected to your Faith at this critical time. As we slowly emerge from the darkness and sorrow brought forth by the global pandemic, it is also a time to reflect on the past year.
“The Universal Church remains,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. The importance of the Paschal Triduum is enhanced as the celebration of these important moments in the suffering, 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.
The Holy Father said “The 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.
Ahead of the Paschal Triduum is Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord. On Palm Sunday, the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. The commemoration, with the blessing of the palms and procession, is a ritual action that marks our own entry into Holy Week.
The Paschal Triduum begins at the conclusion of Lent, which ends at sunset on Holy Thursday. “The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection. Triduum means “three days.” During these three days, we keep one festival that points toward Easter. These feasts are the heart of the entire liturgical year, not one feast among others.
Holy Thursday is April 1 and celebrated as an evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. A component often present on Holy Thursday is the Washing of the Feet. The washing of the feet is an optional practice, which may or may not be done, depending on pastoral circumstance.
Following the Holy Thursday liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Church to a place of repose to remain there until the Easter Vigil.
Good Friday is April 2 and includes the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. This day is a good time to reflect on the Stations of the Cross, with many Parishes offering the Stations on this day.
The Good Friday Liturgy 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. For 2021, the veneration will be limited to a respectful bow before the cross, versus the traditional practice of touching or kissing the cross, for obvious safety reasons in the wake of the pandemic.
The Easter Vigil, on that holy night when the Lord rose again, is considered the “mother of all holy Vigils,” in which the Church, keeping watch, awaits the Resurrection of Christ and celebrates it in the Sacraments. The liturgy is begun in darkness, the Easter fire is kindled, the Paschal Candle is lit and brought into the darkened church 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. In addition, 330 catechumens and candidates from across the Diocese of Venice will enter fully into the Catholic Faith through the reception of the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil celebration.
This Great Vigil opens the Easter Season which will continue for 50 days and finds its conclusion in the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, 2021. The 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘Great Sunday.’”
Holy Week livestream with Bishop Dewane
The key celebrations of Holy Week (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter) with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the celebrant will be available via livestream from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice through the Diocese of Venice and Cathedral Facebooks pages. The Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is at 7 p.m.; the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion is at 3 p.m.; the Easter Vigil is at 8:30 p.m.; and Easter Sunday Mass are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.