Sacred Triduum or Three Days
“The Church was born of the Paschal mystery,” wrote John Paul II in his 2003 Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Therefore, and for this very reason, he added, the Eucharist is the “sacrament of the paschal mystery.” Let’s review what the Paschal Mystery is.
We proclaim it every time we use the Nicene Creed. There are three parts.
- “For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death, and was buried,” (Passion and Death)
- “and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (Resurrection)
- “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” (Ascension)
The Paschal Triduum or Sacred Triduum (“The Three Days”) begins with the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and brings us into contact with the most startling and emotion-charged parts of Christ’s life, his atonement for our sins. Even though we enter into three time-separated liturgical events of Christ’s suffering and death (his Passion) they are one glorious festival lasting three days: Holy Thursday (the Mass of the Lord’s Supper), Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Crucifixion and burial), concluding with Resurrection Sunday. Day three begins with Easter Vigil and ends with Resurrection Sundays’ evening prayer.
The Sacred Triduum is the heart and pulse of the Liturgical Year and the Easter Vigil the greatest celebration of the year where we experience the crowning point, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.