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Dean's Special Message on Holy Week

April 12, 2019

Holy Week and The Triduum 

Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

Our weeks of preparation and prayer throughout Lent have brought us to Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  We will gather this Sunday at 37thand Ludlow Streets for the blessing of the palms and then make our way in procession to the Cathedral, singing “We are marching in the light of God.”  We commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as the crowds cried out Hosannah, which means save us, deliver us now.   How quickly and dramatically this triumphant scene will shift throughout this service as we go on to read aloud the passion from the Gospel of Luke and then later in the week, as we enter what is known as The Triduum. 

The Triduum encompasses Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Day.  These events are actually one service in which we experience the saving work of God through Jesus the Christ.  It is an experience most profoundly realized when we participate in all three from the intimate fellowship of the Last Supper, to the anguish of the crucifixion, to the joy of the resurrection.  And we can only know the arc of this movement, the true joy of new life, if we have also entered fully into the pain of the suffering and death.  

We begin Maundy Thursday by candlelight with a beautiful commemoration of that final Passover seder. The congregation sits at a long altar table, extended the length of the nave, and shares the most holy meal in which Jesus instituted the Eucharist.  As Jesus did, we wash each other’s feet as an act of humble love and care. Together, we strip the altar table and process with the reserved sacrament to the Altar of Repose on the presbyterium where we gather with Jesus in the garden before his arrest.  We sing “Silent Surrendered” and offer ourselves as we have each Sunday during the Offertory in Lent. 

We wait. 

Our Good Fridayservice is stark and potent in its solemnity and simplicity.  We pray.  We hear the story of the Passion once more.  We reverence the wood of the cross upon which the Savior of the world was hung. We receive the reserved sacrament.  At his death, the bells toll thirty-three times, once for each year of his life.  We experience the loss and the sacrifice and the grief.  

We wait. 

The Great Vigil of Easter is the oldest rite in the Christian tradition and includes the Holy Eucharist and the administration of rites of initiation, including baptism.  It was traditionally the time when catechumens, those preparing to become followers of Jesus, were initiated fully into the life of community.  We begin on Holy Saturday evening at almost dusk in the same location at 37thand Ludlow Streets where we blessed the palms earlier in the week.  It is here that we during the Service of Light that we will light the Great Fire, symbolizing a new light and a new birth, and we begin with the invitation to gather “on this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life . . . “  

The Paschal candle is lit from the Great Fire and is carried into the darkened Cathedral as the procession follows.  The deacon proclaims, “The light of Christ” three times and we respond, “Thanks be to God.” The flame from the Paschal candle is passed among the members of the congregation who each hold Vigil candles and the deacon proceeds to sing the ancient and beautiful Exsultet: “This is the night . . . when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.” 

The Service of Light is followed by the Service of Lessons in which we proclaim stories of God’s redeeming presence throughout the Hebrew scriptures.  This concludes with the beautiful collect from the Book of Common Prayer that we also heard on Good Friday which reminds us to “let the whole world see and know that tings which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made . . . Jesus Christ our Lord.  

And then, our wait is over. He is risen! 

I invite you to enter deeply into this most sacred and holy time this year by participating in the entirety of the Triduum. Journey with Jesus from life to death to new life and be transformed by God’s healing and restoring love once more. 

Yours, in the love of Christ, 

 

Dean Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Published: April 12, 2019 12:14 PM