Thousands of the faithful of the Diocese of Venice gathered at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice for a celebration of the Paschal Triduum (April 6-9, 2023).
The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter).
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Paul Parish included the commemoration when Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Holy Communion prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It also observes His institution of the priesthood. This Liturgy included the presentation of the oils blessed and consecrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the April 12 Chrism Mass, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, which will be used for the Sacraments in the Parish throughout the year. Later was the traditional washing of the feet, reenacting Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples. Following the Prayer after Communion, the Mass concluded with a procession to transfer the Holy Eucharist to a place of repose. This action left the tabernacle vacant until the Easter Vigil.
On Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, the faithful at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs participated in the Liturgy which included the reading of the Passion from the Gospel of John. Next was the presentation of the cross, brought forth by the priest and unveiled as the priest sang: “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world,” and the congregation responded: “Come let us adore.” The faithful were then encouraged to come forward to venerate the cross. This was done by either touching, bowing, or genuflecting.
Either prior to, or after, the Good Friday Liturgy, many Parishes hosted the Stations of the Cross, sometimes led by children or including a dramatic retelling. For example, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee, the Living Stations began in a field behind the Parish church, and then travelled through the neighborhood as thousands participated. The Stations were inclusive to include the languages of the Parish (Spanish, English and Creole). By the time the procession returned to the Parish the crowd had swelled into the thousands.
Earlier on Good Friday, representatives from several Parishes in Sarasota County took part in the Sarasota Ministerial Association’s annual Good Friday Pilgrimage of the Stations of the Cross in downtown Sarasota. Representatives from 28 different congregations from 14 different denominations were present for the procession, which included approximately 900.
On Holy Saturday, the only Mass of the day is the Easter Vigil, which begins in darkness. However, several Parishes did host a blessing of the Easter baskets/food. This custom traditionally blesses food to be consumed at the first meal of Easter.
During the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Candle was lit and catechumens and candidates received the Sacraments and entered fully into the Catholic Faith. This year, a record 567 did so throughout the Diocese.
Bishop Dewane celebrated the Liturgy at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The Liturgy begins in darkness when a fire was lighted and Paschal Candle lit. The candle was then brought forward as the Deacon proclaimed “Christ, Our Light” three times. Starting from the main candle, the flames were shared person to person, lighting the interior of the Cathedral. Next was the Easter Proclamation, also known as the Exsultet, sung in darkness.
After the Exsultet, was the Liturgy of the Word, which included a number of readings from Genesis into the New Testament. The third part was the Baptismal Liturgy during which eligible Catechumens were baptized (216 throughout the Diocese) or a Profession of Faith (for candidates, those who were previously baptized but were entering fully into the Church, with 351 in the Diocese) for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Prior to the Confirmation, the Bishop blessed the holy water (removed after the Holy Thursday Mass), and after the faithful renewed their baptismal promises, they were blessed with holy water. At the Cathedral there were five candidates who came forward for their Confirmation. The Mass then continued as normal with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
On Easter Sunday, several Parishes celebrated Mass at sunrise while extra Masses were added to accommodate the increased numbers common for this holiest of days.
Many Parishes also hosted fun for children which often included Easter egg hunts either on the Saturday or following a Children’s Liturgy on Sunday.