The Easter Triduum

The Easter Triduum, marking the days of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, is the most important time of the church year. The term is used to denote, collectively, the three days from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist. We read Gospel of John, which includes the washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus. This gesture is repeated by the priest, who washes the feet of a number of those present at the liturgy. The Holy Thursday celebration ends in silence and darkness as the community focuses on the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.

The service, which takes place on Good Friday, begins in that same darkness and quiet. This is a day of fasting and abstinence in the Church. Mass is not celebrated on this day. Rather, the community continues its prayerful reflection on the mystery of Christ’s death and resurection. We call this Friday “good” because in the suffering and death of Christ we see the outpouring of God’s love for us and the means of our salvation. The passion, according to St. John, which recognizes Jesus’ suffering death, is proclaimed. This liturgy includes a procession and veneration of the Cross, and the distribution of Holy Communion. Many churches also celebrate the Stations of the Cross on the evening of Good Friday.

The Easter Vigil, which takes place on Holy Saturday night, is one of the most beautiful liturgies in the Catholic Church. It begins in darkness, and the new Easter (Paschal), Candle representing the light of Christ, emerges in procession. As the Church gathers to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, those present hear the salvation history of God’s people and welcome through baptism and confirmation those who are joining the Catholic faith. Easter Sunday morning, bathed in the light of Holy Saturday, begins the most festive celebration of the Church year.

Find out answers to commonly asked questions about the Easter Triduum >

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