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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 30, 2023
"From (Thursday) until Sunday, we will live the central days of the liturgical year, celebrating the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. And we live this mystery every time we celebrate the Eucharist. When we go to Mass, we do not go only to pray, no: we go to renew, to bring about again, this mystery, the paschal mystery. It is important not to forget this. It is as though we were going to Calvary — it is the same — to renew, to bring about again the paschal mystery." — Pope Francis, Catechesis: The Easter Triduum
The word, "triduum" (TRIH-du-um) comes from the Latin word meaning, "three days." The Easter Triduum celebrates the three days of Christ's passion, death and resurrection, the most sacred time of the liturgical year. It begins at sundown on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil, and concludes with evening prayer at sundown on Easter Sunday. It is also known as the Sacred Triduum or Paschal Triduum. | Holy Thursday | Good Friday | Holy Saturday | Easter Sunday
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will celebrate the Easter Triduum at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. The schedule is as follows: Holy Thursday, April 6, 6 p.m.; Good Friday, April 7, noon; and Holy Saturday, April 8, 8 p.m. To find Mass times at a parish near you, see the Holy Week Schedule from Arkansas Catholic.
The liturgical celebrations of the Easter Triduum are rich in symbolism and flow from one to the other in a seamless way. They are "one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery," according to the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops. More than 2,000 years later, we are still trying to grasp the meaning and power of what Jesus did for us.
During Holy Week, Catholics worldwide "gather to honor the humiliation, torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In a global culture that usually celebrates power, strength and beauty, this public veneration of something so horrible is always a little shocking. Could it be that what people find so absolutely compelling about the Passion narrative is the vulnerability of God?" wrote Bishop Donald Hying of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, for Simply Catholic.
"If God could become that poor, humble and vulnerable to love me, how can I ever stand on my own self-importance? This week, we celebrate the strangest things: weakness becomes strength, love conquers fear, miserable despair transforms into resurrected hope and perpetual death gives way to eternal life, and it’s all because a naked criminal was thrown down on a cross 2,000 years ago, and he embraced it as if it were his marriage bed," he added.
During the Mass of the Lord's Supper, we mark the institution of the Eucharist and priesthood and re-enact the washing of feet. This Holy Thursday evening liturgy brings Lent to a close and begins the celebration of the Easter Triduum. Holy Thursday is traditionally known as Maundy Thursday. The word, “maundy,” comes from the Latin, “mandatum” and means “commandment” or “mandate."
During the Last Supper, Jesus commanded the disciples to: "Do this in remembrance of me," (1 Corinthians 11:24) referring to the celebration of the Eucharist and "love one another," (John 13:34), which he demonstrated through the washing of the feet. | Learn more in English or Spanish.
At this Mass, we have the "opportunity to taste the surprising grace of the Eucharist and surrender to the consolation of the foot washing," Bishop Hying explained. Read in-depth reflections on the institution of the Eucharist, priesthood and feet washing in Bishop Taylor's Holy Thursday homilies from 2015-2022. A special collection to support seminarian education will be taken up on Holy Thursday in parishes across Arkansas. You can also donate online.
There is no Mass on this day of prayer and mourning. We fast and abstain from meat. We venerate the cross and receive the Eucharist reserved from Holy Thursday. The altar is bare. The sanctuary lamp is out because the tabernacle is empty: Jesus is not there.
This is an "evil day when an innocent man was killed by the state, said Bishop Taylor in his 2016 homily. "How could anyone possibly characterize the Friday on which this occurred as good?" he asked. Because it is "the day the battle was won. The day the power of sin and death was broken," he explained. Read all his Good Friday homilies from 2015-2022. Pray the Stations of the Cross online or in a parish near you.
Give to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection to support the pastoral, charitable, educational and social works of Christians in the Holy Land. Donate at your parish or online. | Learn more in English or Spanish.
While Christ is in the tomb on Holy Saturday, he did something very important that often gets lost in the celebration of the Easter Vigil that evening. In the Apostles Creed we pray: "He descended into hell." Hell in this sense has a very different meaning than how we understand the term today. | Learn more in English or Spanish.
Known as the "mother of all vigils," the Easter Vigil Mass takes places after sundown. "On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting his return in glory. It is the turning point of the triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ's passage from death to life."
The Mass transitions into the baptism of those being initiated into the Church to show the connection between Christ's resurrection and ours. Read Bishop Taylor's Holy Saturday homilies from 2014-2022.
St. Athanasius called Easter "the Great Sunday." The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it the "Feast of feasts" and the "Solemnity of solemnities." Easter is the celebration of the Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
By taking on our sin, Jesus, through his passion, death and resurrection destroyed the power of sin and death and made it possible for us to have eternal life. That is the Good News. All faith flows from faith in the resurrection. "If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:14) | Learn more in English or Spanish.
The word "Easter" comes from Old English, meaning the "East." The sun, which rises in the East, is a symbol for Christians of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world. The Paschal Candle is a key symbol of this divine light, which is Christ. It is kept near the ambo throughout the Easter Season and lit for all liturgical celebrations.
Read Bishop Taylor's Easter season homilies from 2020-22. Curious about Easter traditions? Learn the history of Easter Eggs, Easter lilies, the Easter Bunny and more. Get your Easter basket blessed at church or try this virtual blessing.
"We should let the Lord love us during Holy Week," Bishop Hying suggested. "The Triduum is a time for God to break open our hearts, so that the gracious torrent of Divine Mercy that flows from the side of the crucified Christ will wash us clean, forgive our sins and fashion us ever more deeply in the new creation of the Lord’s saving death and resurrection."
For more information, see Our Sunday Visitor's extensive Guide to Holy Week, as well as one from Busted Halo. Also find out the meaning of Holy Week symbols and tips for how to have a blessed Holy Week. To teach your children about this celebration, see triduum family activities, 25 things for your kids to spot or go to this list of resources from the Catholic Toolbox blog or Catholic Icing. If you are homebound and unable to attend in person, these Holy Week resources from 2020 might be helpful.