By Kaelanne Jordan —
What is your favourite part of the Easter Triduum?
During Wednesday’s (April 13) Ask the Archbishop live chat, Archbishop Jason Gordon shared that the washing of feet is his favourite part of the Triduum.
The Archbishop spoke with excitement of washing the feet of inmates at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca the following morning, Holy Thursday. The last time this was done was in 2019 at the Port of Spain prison. Owing to Covid-19 restrictions, the washing of feet at the nation’s prisons was suspended in 2020 and 2021.
“I have seen prisoners cry in the washing of the feet, and I have seen the former commissioner made it his business… Once he left the Prime Minister in a meeting to come to be at the Mass for the washing of the feet at the prison. It’s a highlight within the prison,” Archbishop Gordon said.
He recalled that at the onset of Covid-19, Friday, March 13, 2020, he gathered with his team to decide on the closure of churches. The Archbishop was also scheduled to visit Carrera Convict Prison that morning.
“And I said I’ll come next week, not knowing that by the end of that day, they closed everything. So, this is the first time I’m going back to the prisons. But both years I’ve done Masses for the prison using technology and interacted with them using technology. But that’s not the same…”
The Archbishop mentioned his other Triduum highlights are the Exaltation of the cross on Good Friday, “that’s always precious”, and the stripping of the altar on Holy Thursday.
Overall, Archbishop Gordon underscored he felt “total excitement” of no more empty seats for this year’s Easter Mass/Service.
“Last year we did have a congregation but restricted and time restricted. Year before, gosh, five people: two musicians, a deacon, a priest and myself. And going live to everybody. But that was also a grace in a very significant way. But this time, I prefer this one, plenty, plenty…” he said.
Archbishop Gordon commented that he has seen a “huge congregation” when he officiated at this year’s Palm Sunday celebration at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH).
“A lot of priests said the same thing… they saw a lot of people out than we saw just before this…. I hope a lot of people will find the Triduum a special and sacred moment where we can all connect and experience the joy of the gospel,” the Archbishop said.
Breaking fast on the National Day of Prayer and Fasting
The Archbishop also shared on his experience of breaking fast with the Muslim community at the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) Masjid, Longdenville in observance of the National Day of Prayer and Fasting last Friday (April 8). They had engaged in “wonderful conversations”.
“It was really a calm, casual, friendly conversation between brothers. It was a moving experience for me experiencing their hospitality and then the generosity of the evening. It was just generous in every way,” he said.
He continued, “So when the time came and we went to break fast, you break fast twice first with a small plate, then you go to pray, and you have a meal. When the small plate came, was bara, a date, samosa, and a wonton….That told me of the hybridity of Trinidad and Tobago as a wonderful place.”
Archbishop Gordon mentioned that he, accompanied by Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju and Muslim brethren prayed together and broke the fast with a cooked Chinese meal.
“The meal was cooked for us by one of the men, and they were very practical to say, ‘we cook fish for you because we know you don’t eat meat on a Friday’.”
What was intriguing too, the Archbishop said, was the other pieces of conversation that unfolded. “They are having the same challenges with their young people not turning up to their practice and somewhat disengaging from their practice. A minority of the children in their school were Muslims. And then we talked about the Concordat and its impact and why we have to understand and work together around it.”
Message on reopening of schools
As school reopens on Tuesday (April 19), the Archbishop was asked to share a message for the nation. He began that Easter teaches us that what might seem to be the worse tragedy and disaster never really is.
“As difficult as Covid has been …remember not just that there’s a silver lining behind every cloud. But remember that all things work for good for those who trust and believe in God. As difficult as this time has been, God, if we allow Him, will turn it to good. And if we allow God, we will emerge out far better and resilient and with some skillset under our belt that we would not have had any other way….” the Archbishop said.