As we make our way through Holy Week we find ourselves in a time known as The Sacred Triduum - Holy Three Days - spanning the time from evening on Maundy Thursday through the Great Vigil of Easter. While Christmas generally gets the most attention as far as church days go (at least here in America), these three days are the holiest time of the year for Christians.
Maundy Thursday - called that from the Latin mandatum, or commandment, is the celebration of the institution of the Lord's Supper, the washing of the disciples' feet, and the New Commandment given by Jesus - that we are to love one another as he loves us. All these are driven by the coming Passion of our Lord. All that we are as Christians takes its meaning from the events of this evening.
Good Friday - or more appropriately, Holy Friday - is the day we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. All decorations have been removed from the church, and our mood is somber and reflective. We are called simply to draw near to the cross of Christ and remain there with him. It is a difficult day, not only because we are commanded to be present to the sufferings of Jesus but to be reminded our our own part in causing them.
The Great Vigil of Easter, the first celebration of the Easter season, is our Passover. It is the night Christ passes over from death into life, the night we are joined in that holy journey as well. The Great Vigil starts in darkness; the new fire is then kindled, so that the Light of Christ may shine brightly in our lives and in the world.
These three days are really one event, and when we take part in that event we are joined to the life, death, and new life of Christ. In other words, we are changed and are never the same again. At this writing, we are squarely in the middle of the Sacred Triduum. Holy Friday services continue with Stations of the Cross at 6pm and the Good Friday liturgy at 7pm. We celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter at 8pm on Saturday evening. You are invited to join in this most holy of times as we witness and take part in the new life of creation once again.