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A profound and solemn celebration – the Sacred Paschal Triduum

As Catholic Christians around the world prepared to commemorate the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sacred Paschal Triduum took centre stage. This profound liturgical observance, spanning three days, marks the culmination of the Church’s spiritual journey through Lent.

In a recent interview on Altos, Msgr Michael de Verteuil, Chair of the Archdiocese’s Liturgical Commission, provided valuable insights into the significance and rituals of the Triduum.

Drawing from his wealth of knowledge, he guided viewers through this sacred celebration, highlighting its intricate details and profound meaning.

Explaining the term “Triduum,” Msgr de Verteuil stated, “It’s three days measured in the way that the Jewish measured days, which was from evening to evening. So, we have from Thursday to Friday, Friday to Saturday, Saturday to Sunday. So, the Triduum actually ends on Sunday evening.”

He emphasised that despite occurring over three days, “It’s really one celebration. One grand celebration.” This unity is signified by the lack of opening and closing prayers until the Easter Vigil, as “At the end of the Thursday, there’s no blessing and dismissal, neither on the Good Friday because we haven’t finished yet.”

Holy Thursday holds great importance, as Msgr de Verteuil explained: “So the Holy Thursday, where we focus on the service of Jesus to us, and the washing of the feet, giving us His whole being, His whole body and blood giving everything for us, which we will see on Good Friday.”

The solemn Good Friday liturgy focuses on Christ’s Passion, culminating in the Veneration of the Cross. “We venerate the Cross because this was the instrument on which You gave Your life, on which You gave everything for us,” he said.

The pinnacle is the Easter Vigil, which Msgr de Verteuil called “the holiest, but they’re all holy…of our church calendar.”

He described the profound symbolism of the lighting ceremony known by the Latin word for ‘light,’ Lucernarium: “The celebration begins with the ceremony of light. A new fire is burnt. Now, theoretically, all fires were put out, all candles, everything, all light was gone. And that’s why this celebration should take place after nightfall.”

He continued, “So we light the new fire, we light the (Paschal) candle, and the candle is held up. Christ, the light. And thanks be to God. Because now, to recognise what has happened, the world walked in darkness. We didn’t have access to God, as it were, because of the sin of Adam. Now the light has risen. Christ has conquered darkness. Christ has conquered death. And now we can see, now we can know, now we can come into the fullness of light one day in heaven.”

Throughout, light represents Christ’s triumph, as Msgr de Verteuil proclaimed: “And that’s the message of one of the messages of the Resurrection. That no matter how dark things are, Resurrection comes. The light has come into the world.”

The Baptism of new Catholics is a joyous part of the Vigil, as “Baptism, for those who’ve been going through our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), but also all of us who are going through Lent, seeking conversion, seeking to be better than we were at the beginning of Lent, we’ll renew our Baptism of commitment.”

He encouraged full participation in this single, sacred celebration: “We should all try our best to celebrate all three because the Triduum doesn’t finish on Holy Thursday night. It doesn’t finish on a Good Friday afternoon.”

The Triduum allows the faithful to immerse themselves in the Paschal Mystery through powerful symbols and ritual. As Msgr de Verteuil stated, “It’s a wonderful celebration. Here we are, the people of God gathered, celebrating this great act of God on our behalf.”